1

I used to work for Orbitz.com the travel site and remembered wondering how OrbitzMoving.com could get away with using the Orbitz name in their website url. OrbitzMoving.com was not related to Orbitz.com in any way, they just hijacked the name to confuse consumers into trusting them.

Is this legal? Could you start a site called GoogleMoving.com? I have to think it's not, but OrbitzMoving.com lasted ~10 years. Would love to hear the right answer.

2

Anyone seriously planning on doing this or anything like it would be well advised to consult a good trademark lawyer with the specifics. Specifics will matter in such a case. That said:

Under US trademark law, the key question is whether a reasonable person would be confused into assuming that there is some connection, and that the new firm could be relied on based on the reputation of the old one. if so, this is a trademark infringement unless permission is obtained from the trademark holder (not likely to be granted). Since "orbitz" is a coined term its protection is stronger, there is no natural object or concept this can refer to. "AppleMoving" is less likely to be confused with "Apple Computers" because apples are real things and need not refer to computers.

The likelihood of confusion depends on the specific facts of an individual case.

Note also that trademark protection is a matter of private civil lawsuits. If orbitz didn't choose to sue for whatever reason, nothing would have stopped OrbitzMoving.

  • Thanks! This makes a lot of sense. So if Orbitz had told OrbitzMoving to knock if off, Orbitz would have been on solid legal ground. However, since they (likely) didn't, then OrbitzMoving was fine continuing to use that domain. Is that right? – DougB Oct 5 '18 at 16:57
  • That is speculation, but it is plausible. had Orbitz told OrbitzMoving to cease using its name, and OrbitzMoving refused, a court case could have resulted in which the question of whether the names were 'confusingly similar" would have been one of the issues. In general, if a trademark holder fails to protect its property by telling infringers to cease, there is no penalty for infringement of a trademark. – David Siegel Oct 5 '18 at 17:03
  • Great, thanks for the info! Very helpful – DougB Oct 5 '18 at 17:56

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