Scripps wanted to claim universal rights to the term “food” on the web.
The company behind the Food Network and Food.com, Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc., has lost an objection against a rival applicant for the top level domain name .food.
In the objection against Dot Food, LLC, Scripps tried to argue that it basically owns the word “food”, and that consumers visiting a second level domain name under .food would assume that it was associated with the company.
Respondent’s intended use of the top level domain is to resell second string domains in the open marketplace and become an authoritative online resource for content related to cuisine and the culinary arts. In addition to the fact that such activity would irreparably damage the famous FOOD brand, there is a significant likelihood that such activity would unlawfully trade upon the fame and goodwill of Objector’s marks.
Not surprisingly, that argument didn’t please the appetite of the panelist.
Objector’s rights in the FOOD mark do not confer upon it the exclusive right to use of the word “food” in all circumstances, particularly where, as here, Applicant intends to use the .food gTLD in connection with the food industry. Such intended use of the word would appear to be only for its dictionary meaning and not because of Objector’s trademark rights. In other words, use of the word “food” as a gTLD in connection with food is a generic usage of the term that cannot, by itself, create a likelihood of confusion.
Panelist Douglas M. Isenberg cited the decision in the .express case in coming to his conclusion that the objection should be denied.
Donuts, which prevailed in the .express case, is also an applicant for .food. Scripps’ objection against Donuts’ application is still pending but will surely be denied.
Scripps can still win the .food domain name by negotiating with the other applicants for going to an auction. Given its approach of filing the objections, I suspect the other applicants won’t give cut it any slack.