There are many reasons to select a distinctive mark, that is, a mark that serves the purpose of identifying the source of the goods or services rather than describing some quality or characteristic of the goods or services. One reason is the availability of legal relief against cybersquatters.
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Twitter prohibits “username squatting” (registering another’s trademark as a username). However, because Twitter gives out usernames on a first-come, first-served basis, without running a clearance check to make sure a requested username is not a trademark owned by someone else, username squatting inevitably happens.
It depends on exactly what the “manipulation” consists of, but tread carefully. The United States District Court for the District of Utah recently suggested that a company cannot artificially boost the positivity level of its products’ online reviews by having its employees mark the positive reviews as helpful, and the negative reviews as unhelpful, or by giving customers gifts in return for posting positive reviews, if such activities actually achieve their objective, that is, if they actually create the impression that unbiased consumers find positive reviews to be helpful and negative reviews to be unhelpful, and that a high number of unbiased consumers posted positive reviews without any anticipation of reward. See Vitamins Online, Inc. v. Heartwise, Inc., 2016 WL 538458 (D. Utah Feb. 9, 2016).
Courts have usually held that purchasing a competitor’s trademark as a keyword on Google does not constitute trademark infringement or unfair competition. There is, however, no general rule. Every case has its own unique set of facts, and a court will carefully examine the relevant facts to determine whether your conduct creates a likelihood of confusion with your competitor’s trademark.