You can call me an inline skater, an in-line skater,
a rollerskater, a roller skater, a blader or
even - as my skateboarding friends do - call me a fruit booter!
But please don't call me a Rollerblader, even if
I am wearing Rollerblade skates.
Article Date: January 29, 2002
The generic name for the sport of rolling on skates
with wheels that are arranged in a line (instead of
side by side) is "inline skating" or
"inline roller skating". These terms will cover all
forms of the sport including aggressive inline skating,
inline figure skating, recreational inline skating,
inline speed skating, and all other forms of the sport.
If you are inclined to refer to the sport as
"Rollerblading", you might find yourself being
corrected by friends who are aware that
Rollerblade is a brand name and the name
of one company who makes inline skates. And writers
who use the term Rollerblading in an article or
news report are
likely to receive a cordial but firm "cease and desist" letter from
Rollerblade, Inc. or
Tecnica the Italian sports equipment
manufacturer who owns Rollerblade.
Isn't Rollerblade a Verb?
The word Rollerblade cannot be used as a common verb,
because it is protected by a trademark. When it is used
in a sentence, it should always be capitalized, and only used
as an adjective describing Rollerblade brand skates.
The 2000 edition of the
"Associated Press Style Book" (a bible for press writers - see link
at the bottom of this page)
includes this guidance about use of the term Rollerblading:
FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS STYLE BOOK:
"The company that manufactures Rollerblade skates, the popular in-line
roller skates, is another aggressive defender of its trademark. They
don't like it when editors allow sentences such as, "He fell and
fractured his elbow while rollerblading."
Why Does Rollerblade Care?
In order to protect their trademark,
Rollerblade is required by the U.S. Patent Office
to make a significant effort to find instances of misuse of
the terms "Rollerblade" and "Rollerblading", and follow
up by sending a letter to the offenders.
If it can ever be shown that Rollerblade permitted generic
use of their trademarked name, they could lose their
claim to that trademark. Many
trademarks have been inadvertently forfeited by their
owners because the owners allowed them to slip in common usage.
Some well-known examples of trademarks that have been lost are
windsurfer, aspirin, escalator, cellophane and yo-yo.
Xerox is another company with good reason to be concerned
about their trademark lapsing into common usage.
If you get caught using the word Xerox as a
generic verb, you will received a "cease and desist" letter
from Xerox every time.
Two Test Cases
Rollerblade has established firm control over the name
"Rollerblade" but it has not been quite as easy to prevent
the term "Rollerblading" from slipping into common usage.
In 2000 Rollerblade was involved in two domain name disputes,
which were arbitrated by the
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) according to the ICANN
Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.
WIPO's domain name decisions have been the
topic of much controversy, and it's
important to note that domain
name decisions made by WIPO do not affect a company's
ownership of a trademark.
Resolution of Those Two Test Cases
In the two domain name disputes in 2000, Rollerblade won a dispute
against the owner of the domain name "Rollerblade.net"
but they lost the dispute against the owner of "Rollerblading.com"
I found this last decision annoying for
my own personal reasons.
Rollerblading.com is a badly designed (in my opinion) Web site that has often reprinted
material from my About.com site, Aggressive.com and other inline skating
sites without citing the source or requesting permission. I have complained
about their practices on several public bulletin boards, and I discovered
only this week that Rollerblading.com is using ANOTHER one of my articles,
"How to Get Started on Inline Skates", without giving About.com
credit or asking permission (sigh... here we go again...)
IMPORTANT NOTE: Rollerblading.com should not be confused
with the very nice Australian Web site
Rollerblading.com.au which is owned and operated by
IISA certified instructor James O'Connor of Sydney.
Now back to the topic of this article: The full decisions handed down by WIPO in
the two Rollerblade domain name disputes can be viewed online here:
WIPO Decisions Affecting Rollerblade
Full Text of the Decisions
Rollerblade vs. Chris McCrady
Case Number: D2000-0429
Filed: May 26, 2000
Decision: June 25, 2000
Rollerblade vs. CBNO and Ray Redican Jr.
Case Number: D2000-0427
Filed: May 26, 2000
Decision: August 24, 2000
What do you think about WIPO's decisions in the Rollerblade
cases? Post a message on our
forum at AskAboutSkating.com and share your ideas.
Organizations and Documents Mentioned in This Article
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
ICANN Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy
United States Patent and Trademark Office
Books Mentioned in This Article
Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law
Associated Press Guide to Punctuation
Skating in 100 Countries
All Skating Articles
Introduction to Skating Disciplines