Alan Montera Argues for Changes in Foreign Equivalents Doctrine
For over a century, U.S. courts have applied the foreign equivalents doctrine, which asserts that a generic term from another country that is commonly used to describe an item should not be given trademark protection in the United States when describing that same item. For example, a company could not register the term “sake” to prevent anyone else from using that term when selling a rice wine. Since the 1980s, U.S. courts have created an exception to this doctrine for terms from England, Australia, and other English-speaking countries.
In the most recent volume of the Texas Intellectual Property Law Journal, Alan Montera argues this doctrine should equally apply to generic terms coming from Japan, Australia, and any other English-speaking country. You can read this article, The Foreign Equivalents Doctrine … In English? here.