Does GoWaiter.com infringe Waiter.com’s mark?
Here’s an interesting lawsuit that shows the challenges of building a business on a descriptive (aka ‘generic’) domain name.
Waiter.com, a food delivery web site started in 1995, has sued GoWaiter.com, a similar service apparently started in 2010.
Waiter.com has a trademark for “Waiter.com”, which it bases its complaint on.
The plaintiff might have a case here (pdf).
If the plaintiff’s name was FoodDelivery.com, and someone created GoFoodDelivery.com, then it would be a hard case. Food delivery merely describes the service.
But does “Waiter.com” describe the service of food delivery? Maybe at a restaurant. But if I heard there was a web site called Waiter.com, I’d probably think it was a resource site or job board for waiters.
One reason Waiter.com is clearly miffed: if you search Google for Waiter.com, its competitor comes up #2.
GoWaiter.com, it should be noted, has federal trademark registrations for GoWaiter and GoWaiter.com.
[Update 8/22/13: apparently Waiter.com ended up acquiring GoWaiter or its assets, but Waiter.com has filed another lawsuit alleging that the defendant is still using the marks. It appears the domain name still belongs to the defendant.]