“Enforcement Issues Raised By Geographically Descriptive Marks: The Hypothetical Case of the Fictitious Emerild Island”

How do famous, but geographically descriptive, trademarks impact the ability of second-comers to trade off the fame of the location?  For example, your client, Skim Co., wants to start a booking service to receive Internet and telephone traffic to book lodging and other services at the fictitious Emerild Island off the Louisiana coast. After Hurricane Katrina, Emerild Island, Inc. purchased coastal land on Emerild Island for a pittance, built the luxurious Emerild Island Resort and Spa, collected old trains, cars, boats and other debris from the hurricane, and sunk them off the resort.

Emerild Island, Inc.’s artificial reef quickly became a beacon for marine life and the tourist trade then followed, drawn mainly by the exciting diving and other amenities available through Emerild Island Resort and Spa, now famous the world over. The sleepy motels, tourist homes and Cajun restaurants in the area are now thriving and a number of dive shops, including Emerild Island Divers, have opened up.

Your client wants to obtain the vanity phone number and service mark 1-800-EMERILD, and act as a booking agent for many of the local businesses, including the Resort and Spa. He wants to know if a trademark infringement suit by Emerild Island, Inc. would put him out of business.

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