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Who Owns the Word “Spinning”?

Here’s an interesting IP case for all you indoor cycling fanatics.

Mad Dogg Athletics, a seller of stationary bikes and other products and training, registered the word SPINNING as a trademark for fitness facilities. But is “spinning” just a generic word that describes stationary bikes and classes? That’s what Peloton – the big gorilla of indoor cycling – argues in a petition filed with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

A company can only get protection for a trademark that is distinctive. STARBUCKS, NIKE, and the Golden Arches are good examples. If a purported trademark does nothing more than describe a good or service, the law won’t protect it. You can’t use DOG FOOD as a trademark for dog food, for example.

Mad Dogg registered SPINNING more than 20 years ago, but Peloton says the word is now a generic term that everyone uses in connection with indoor cycling. Think ASPIRIN or YOYO, both of which were once registered but have fallen prey to “genericide.”

Mad Dogg Athletics has apparently been vigorous in asserting the mark and will no doubt file a forceful response. But if Peloton prevails, the U.S. trademark registration will be cancelled.

You can read Peloton’s petition on the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board website.

Maxwell Goss Law represents clients in trade secret, intellectual property, and business litigation cases in Michigan and nationwide.

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