I guess the title of this post is revealing of my age. Anyways, I stumbled upon this article on Huffington Post today and I decided to talk about it because it relates to trademark/trade dress even though it doesn't really seem like it.
But first, I have to say that Huffington Post is so damn good at coming up with catchy titles. And sometimes I know they're trying to sucker me in, but I fall for it anyways. One can only be so strong. Articles having titles like, “Justin Bieber Doesn't Look Like This Anymore,” “10 Things That You Must Do Now!” or “Watch This Video of Adorable Puppies” are definitely a must read.
With that said, I read an article about Portlanders being upset over the loss of their airport carpet. At first I was like, “Is this a thing?” Then I read the article, and looked at a bunch of Twitter pics. According to the article, “the 25-year-old pattern is a symbol of homecoming for Portlanders, who are used to snapping photos of their shoes on the floor of PDX [Portland International Airport] for social media posterity.” So of course this is a thing.
Here, PDX has a trade dress, and this carpet is a part of it. The pattern on the carpet is nonfunctional (because it's merely a design), and it is inherently distinctive. Even if you don't think the pattern on the carpet is inherently distinctive, I think one could easily argue that the pattern had acquired a secondary meaning, i.e., it had come through use to be uniquely associated with a specific source. See Two Pesos, Inc. v. Taco Cabana, Inc., 505 U.S. 763 (1992). Either way, the carpet is capable of identifying airport services as coming from PDX.
It's always sad when something grows on you and then it's taken away. Maybe you don't realize it at first but the absence becomes more obvious when it's time to fill that void with something else. What will the Portlanders do when the carpet's ripped out from the airport floor? Will others know that you've arrived in Portland when you snap photos of your feet on the new floor of PDX? Probably not... at least not for a while.
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