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Lawyers.com Generic for Legal Information Website

Apr.18.2007

In In Reed Elsevier Properties, Inc. (No, 2006-1309; April 12, 2007), a Federal Circuit panel affirms the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s refusal to register the mark LAWYERS.COM as generic for providing an online interactive database featuring information exchange in the fields of law, legal news, and legal services.

On appeal, Reed Elsevier asserted that (1) the TTAB improperly considered all of the services offered on the www.lawyers.com website in defining the genus of services at issue, rather than focusing only on the services listed in the application; and (2) the TTAB’s conclusion that “a central and inextricably intertwined element of [the claimed] genus is information about lawyers and information from lawyers” is not supported by substantial evidence.

The Court finds both contentions without merit, stating that “[A]s Reed and Martindale-Hubbard should know, for better or worse, lawyers are necessarily an integral part of the information exchange about legal services.” The panel then determines that the TTAB acted properly in reviewing the www.lawyers.com website for context to inform its understanding of the various terms in the recitation of services listed in the application, because “information exchange about lawyers is not at all discrete” from the services listed in the application. The Court also finds that substantial evidence supports the TTAB’s determination of what services the relevant public would understand “lawyers” to identify.

[http://www.fedcir.gov/opinions/06-1309.pdf]

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