TRADEMARKS: What Makes a Real Murphy?

What Makes a Real Murphy?

Ever since Charlie Chaplin battled a rambunctious Murphy bed, the fold-up sleeper has been an American icon. In New York City last week, a federal appeals court showed just how firmly the name is embedded in popular lore when it ruled that "Murphy bed" has become a generic term and therefore is not subject to trademark protection.

The decision overturned a lower-court victory by the Murphy Door Bed Co. of Amityville, N.Y. The firm claimed that a former Murphy distributor had illegally called his product the "original" Murphy bed. The appeals court ordered the distributor to pay damages for competing unfairly...

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