SnapChat loses dispute over “GeoFilters” term


Company claimed registrant of domain name was cybersquatting.

Example of a Geofilter, Image courtesy Snap.

Snap, Inc., maker of the SnapChat app, has failed to convince a World Intellectual Property Organization panel that the registrant of the domain is cybersquatting.

Back in 2014, Snap introduced Geofilters that overlay time and location data on pictures. The current registrant, Primary Knowledge, Inc, registered the domain in late 2014 after the domain name expired.

The domain owner provided evidence of the term geofilter being used in a descriptive manner prior to Snap’s use.

The three-person panel determined:

It is the Complainant’s burden to demonstrate unregistered or common law trademark or service mark rights in GEOFILTER. The Panel concludes that the Complainant has failed to meet this burden. On the basis of the record, the Panel considers the Complainant’s applied-for GEOFILTER mark to be descriptive in relation to the Complainant’s product. The term “Geofilter” as used refers to software that adds a filter or picture to a photograph based on a geographic location. The Complainant has provided little or no evidence regarding the nature of extent of the use of “Geofilter” as a mark, sales or advertising using the mark, public recognition of “Geofilter” as an indicator of source, or consumer surveys evidencing secondary meaning. The examples of media recognition provided by the Complainant appear to focus primarily on the features of the product. Nor is the Complainant’s use of “Geofilter” exclusive; the record before the Panel reflects other descriptive third-party usages of “geofilter” as well. In the final analysis, the Complainant has failed to show that the consuming public has come to recognize “Geofilter” as an indicator of the source of the product rather than the product itself.

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