AdBlock Plus doesn’t seem to think so. Though they apparently also do think so (more on that below). Adblock Plus was successful in registering the ADBLOCK PLUS mark. Now they’re using that registration to issue take down notices to people using Adblock in their name. That left me scratching my head. It all sounds rather generic to me. Of course, many people will just acquiesce because, really, Adblock? It’s probably cheaper to rebrand to Ad Blocker Ultimate from AdBlock Ultimate, as the people who were issued the take down notice in the story linked above did. Court and petitions to cancel a mark take time. I’m not sure why Adblock Plus doesn’t spend 30 minutes brainstorming something a little more creative. I’m sure it will cost them a whole lot of money to try to create any real trademark rights here. My gut tells me AdBlocker Ultimate would have been successful if they had decided it was worth it to fight.
If this was likely to cause confusion:
That got me wondering how much generic use of “ad block,” “adblock,” “adblocking,” and similar combinations were out there. Guess what, there is quite a bit. I even came across this interview with the communications and operations manager at Adblock Plus from a couple of weeks ago. Not only is the topic of conversation “the future of ad blocking,” but he actually refers to their product as “an ad blocker” around the 1:40 mark. If you’re still listening after that, a little after the 2:00 mark he says there are “about 200 other ad blockers out there.” It sounds to me as though he thinks “ad blocker” is the generic term for the product they offer. I actually stopped paying attention to how many times he uses “ad blocker” and “ad blocking.”
Oh, and guess what? Not only are they “a free ad blocker . . . that blocks ALL annoying ads . . . ” it’s also “the most popular ad blocker ever” according to their product page on Google Chrome.
If you happen to be their trademark lawyer, you may want to give them a call. You may also want to have them spend 30 minutes brainstorming an alternative generic term for their product if they hope to keep those trademark rights.
I’ll be checking up on this from time to time. I figure that at some point there will be someone else with enough interest in using the term adblock, or just upset enough that they are being told not to use the term, that we may see a petition to cancel. After all, there are 200 some ad blockers out there according Adblock Plus. If not, I’d be curious to know what alternative generic term they get to stick. Anybody have a good one?