Journal of Intellectual Property Law
When a “+” Doesn’t Add Anything in the Equation: Analyzing the Effect of the “+” on Trademark Law
In the past decade, there has been a growing trend where companies use the plus sign, “+”, in their branding. From industry titans like Google and Apple to smaller, niche companies like World Champ Tech, there has been an increased use of the + in product and service names. This raises trademark questions about how the mark should be protected and how does the + change the meaning of a name. Trademarks are designed to protect producers as well as consumers from deceit, miscommunication, and misunderstanding. The + potentially denies producers and consumers these protections.
Another trend in the past decade is adding “.com” to the end of a word and trying to get that registered as a trademark. While there has been substantial case law regarding this craze, the courts have yet to make a ruling on the +. These two trends can be analogized to one another. Courts will soon have to look at companies trying to register basic words with a + added to the end. This note will analyze World Champ Tech’s registration of “Bike+”, which is the name of their app that tracks a cyclist’s information. This note will discuss case law relating to the “.com” trend and use the rulings to analyze “Bike+”. It will also look at the negative effects allowing the registration will have on trademark law.
When a “+” Doesn’t Add Anything in the Equation: Analyzing the Effect of the “+” on Trademark Law,
J. Intell. Prop. L.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/jipl/vol29/iss2/4