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So ebay Kleinanzeigen is a company that owns a website for classified ads. People can post classified ads there and search the website to buy things from classified ads. I suppose ebay has the exact same business model in various other countries. This is the German branch. Now the German word 'Kleinanzeige' means exactly classified ad.

Recently they renamed both their website and the company itself to just 'Kleinanzeigen'. To me this looks like a classic example of a trademark for common words as in this or this question and in their case this seems to be exactly a generic term. The name of the company is exactly what they sell. To me this means they shouldn't be able to get any trademark or copyright for that name. Anyone else offering Kleinanzeigen in Germany can just call them Kleinanzeigen because that is what they are.

Is that what happened here or do they have some other way to protect their company name? It seems very strange to me to deliberately rename the company to lose any trademark associated with it.

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    @amon Please dont answer in comments
    – Dale M
    Jun 5 at 10:14
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    @DaleM FYI comment notifications are only sent to existing commenters. Since I wasn't notified of your comment, I assume you deleted my comment first. In any case, I'm happy that Eike wrote an answer that also covers some aspects noted in my comment.
    – amon
    Jun 5 at 20:36

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There is already any number of other pages that are named kleinanzeigen, just with different top level domains (probably sprung into existence after the plan for the renaming became public). But if you are a Website operating in Germany that owns the kleinanzeigen.de domain, that probably does not worry you too much (you could probably fight others over the use of the word for a specific purpose such as a classifieds website, because sometimes specific uses might be protected; but that would be an uphill battle, since as pointed out the name is the literal description of the business model).

What might worry you is that somebody is tricked into confusing kleinanzeigen.eu or kleinanzeigen.biz with your valuable property. The way to avoid that is to register a "Wort-Bild-Marke", a combination of your name with one or more distinctive graphic elements. You will notice that the "kleinanzeigen" name on the website is rendered in a specific font and is preceded by what on closer inspection turns out to be a stylized letter "k". That is something that can be protected by law. Nobody else is allowed to be too close to that design, so that minimizes the danger that visitors confuse a competitor's page with the "original" kleinanzeigen page.

Since the question alludes to eBay's business, kleinanzeigen is no longer a part of eBay - for some three years now they belong to Adevinta, a Norwegian conglomerate that runs classified portals in various countries. So keeping "ebay" in their name was not really an option (and all alternatives to "kleinanzeigen" were probably worse).

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