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The Apple thing doesn't work though, for a specific reason: it's a very common word/name.

Smith is a very common surname. If one person starts the Smith Automobile Company and another person starts the Smith Farm, obviously there's no issue there. That's because none of us invented "Smith", it's understood to be a common name, etc.

On the other hand, if I start "The Google Paper Company", I'm pretty damn sure I would quickly and easily lose that case, despite the fact that google does not sell paper. And nobody would think that is weird, because Google is very obvious an invention (Yeah, I know, "googol", but the spelling makes it unique).

"Kik" is a lot closer to the "google" situation than the "apple" situation.

That is not how trademarks work. Feel free to start the Google Paper Co. Uniqueness is not a merit for trademark infringement. To infringe you have to be a competitor.

That is how some trademarks work. Google is by now a famous mark and, as such, gets additional protection beyond what mere mortal companies do: http://itlaw.wikia.com/wiki/Famous_marks

I guarantee you won't last long if you start a Coca-Cola School of Hairdressing, even though the beverage company doesn't compete for that business.

If that is the case, then it just further invalidates the argument for Kik because it is most certainly not a famous mark.

Famous and "Unique" aren't the same thing. I was responding to the theory that because "Google" is a made-up word, they'll receive extra protections. That's false. That said my example was a bad one, since Google is a famous mark Google Paper Co. would likely be infringement.

Feel free to start Kik Paper Co, however.

That is incorrect. You are also infringing if people could reasonably assume an affiliation due to your use of the trademark, which would definitely be the case with Google Paper Co. You're basically piggy-backing on (and diluting) the brand recognition they've built.

You are correct in that my Google example would likely be trademark infringement because Google is a famous mark. Kik is not a famous mark, so for this case the famous/well-known aspect of trademark infringement is entirely moot.

And keep in mind that the OP I was responding to was arguing that if the name is unique it gets extra protection. That's false. Fame offers extra protection, uniqueness does not.

"According to Kik Interactive, as of December 2015, Kik Messenger had approximately 240 million registered users, and was used by approximately 40 percent of United States teenagers." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kik_Messenger

Are you sure a court wouldn't consider that qualifying as a famous mark? I'm not going to dig into case law, but my guess is it very well could be.

"Evidence relevant to the fame of a trademark may include sales, advertising and revenue figures; geographical scope of use; channels of trade; registrations in home and other countries; past enforcement efforts; and the results of consumer recognition surveys (provided the survey methods are approved by the courts in that jurisdiction)." http://www.inta.org/TrademarkBasics/FactSheets/Pages/FamousW...

> Are you sure a court wouldn't consider that qualifying as a famous mark? I'm not going to dig into case law, but my guess is it very well could be.

Teenagers represent 9.5% of the US population meaning that 3.8% of the US population (using their 40% figure) have "used" their app. Alternatively the 240 million registered users would imply about 3.5% of the total global population has used it.

I can say that I honestly have ZERO doubt that "kik" would never be ruled famous by any possible measure.

I don't know whether you're right or not, but I do know it isn't prudent to have ZERO doubt about anything - but especially legal matters - without first doing the relevant research. And even then, courts disagree all the time, so I can't imagine ever being 100% certain that a ruling would never go a certain way.

To be even reasonably certain in this case, I would need case law of similarly well-known brands being challenged. Do you have some? Capturing 40% of their target market seems pretty well known to me, but again, that's meaningless without the case law.

Check out the case law about Mcdonalds v Quality Inns (re: McSleep Inns)

Mcdonald's was able to show that there would be consumer confusion DESPITE Mcdonald's not doing hotels nor Mcsleep inns not doing food.

As a result, Mcdonalds basically has an open trademark enforcement on "Mc-" whatever.

While I'm not fond of the judgement here, it was nonetheless decided thusly, and contradicts your otherwise accurate (so far as I know) statement. (And to weaken my own point, I believe Apple lost a similar case about i<whatever>, so nothing here is clear and reliable.)

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