POLITICO sends cease and desist letter to the owner of domain TheCollegePolitico.com

The College Politico

The owner of TheCollegePolitico.com (registered about a year ago) is certainly enjoying some traffic, after receving a “cease and desist” letter from POLITICO.  POLITICO which gets over 2 million visitors per month according to Compete, is an online Political News website.

As you can see from the screenshot above, the webmaster is posting stories about this, and getting lots of attention by bloggers. 

From The Washington Examiner:

The origins of the word, “politico,” date to 1630, and signify a person active in party politics, according to Princeton’s WordNet.

Politico via counsel has issued similar cease and desist letters. In December 2007, the company forced the hand of an electronic trade publication aimed at political marketing to Hispanics. In a letter to readers, publisher Arturo Villar said the publication “reluctantly” changed their name from La Política to CandidatoUSA. Capitol News also holds the rights to Campus Politico, Wall Street Politico, Hollywood Politico, Mobilepolitico, El Policito and Politico TV.

“From a legal standpoint, [Politico] probably has a reasonable claim,” said Robert Cox, president of Media Bloggers Association. “The issue is whether people are likely to be confused.”

“It’s not even a close call,” said Jerald Fritz, Politico’s general counsel. “Brand and names are essential for any venture…we’re aimed at protecting our mark.” Fritz referred to Ford Mustang, Apple Computers and Greyhound as trademarks supportive of Politico’s claim. “There are countless examples. You can go on and on,” he said.

Ron Coleman, a commercial litigator and trademark lawyer at New York and New Jersey’s Goetz Fitzpatrick LLP., has targeted weak points in Politico’s argument on his blog, Likelihood of Confusion. Notably, said Coleman, generic words do not enjoy trademark protection, while descriptive words may only become trademarks if they have acquired distinctiveness.

“Politico’s problem is that although it may indeed be able prove that ‘POLITICO’ has acquired distinctiveness for online journals, it is still a rather weak trademark because of its descriptiveness,” he said.