The Internet: What's In A Name?

THE INTERNET IS HOT STUFF these days. Too bad companies that want to capitalize on Net fever will have to wait, perhaps interminably, before they can trademark names using "Internet." One company, Internet Inc., already has trademarked the word, and federal regulators have rejected an application from the Internet Society. The bureaucrats are reconsidering, but the mess could take years to sort out.

In legal limbo at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office are some 64 applicants, ranging from Internet Business Report, producer of newsletters about doing business on the Net, to Internet in a Box, which helps cybernetic neophytes navigate the Net's labyrinth. If a competitor wants to rip off their names, it can.

Internet Inc., an electronic-banking outfit, secured a trademark in 1990. Earlier this year, the Internet Society, a cyberspace research group, was denied on the grounds that the prior trademark existed. The group challenged Internet Inc.'s right to a mark before the Trademark Trial & Appeal Board, arguing that "Internet" is a generic term in use for two decades. Internet Inc. declined to comment.

      -- INTERNET SHOWCASE / Ziff Communications
      -- INTERNET BUSINESS REPORT / CMP Publications
      -- INTERNET IN A BOX / Spry
      -- INTERNET WORLD / International Data Group
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