California residents who are fans of the cartoon series 'The Simpsons" likely remember the convenience store in the show. On Dec. 29, a convenience store that was named Quick E Mart was sued by 7-Eleven for trademark infringement. The store is owned by Sangha Investments LLC and operated in North Bend, Oregon.
Two of California's biggest airlines are locked in a dispute over trademarks used in their marketing materials. American Airlines sued rival company Delta Air Lines over the term "Flagship." Delta has begun using the term to promote premium flights, while American already uses the term for its own first- and business-class options. American requested that the court issue an injunction against Delta prohibiting the rival airline from using the disputed term in its promotion. It says that Delta has long been aware that American has trademarked these terms to promote its premium flights, as the airline has been using them for decades.
Some gaming fans in California may have noticed that a few indie games on the gaming storefront Itch.io have been removed if they use the phrase "Choose your own adventure." Chooseco, the Choose Your Own Adventure books publisher, claimed that four games were infringing on its trademark. On Twitter, the founder of Itch.io warned developers to avoid using the phrase since Chooseco was issuing takedown notices.
Trademark owners in California and around the country usually take legal action to protect their intellectual property when branding elements similar to theirs are used in a way that could confuse consumers. This was the concern that prompted a Georgia woman to file a lawsuit in September against the big-box retailer Target. The woman founded the Atlanta-based company Garnish & Gather in 2013 to promote locally grown food, and she sent a trademark infringement notice to Target in August when she learned that the retailer planned to name its premium food brand Good & Gather.
Deciding whether to take legal action against infringers is sometimes difficult for intellectual property owners in California and around the country. Choosing to allow branding elements or copyrighted material to be used without consent makes future infringement more likely, but aggressive litigation can sometimes prompt a disapproving media response and an angry public backlash.
The California-based video game company Riot Games, which is best known for its 'League of Legends" series, has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the esports organization Riot Squad. The litigation, which got filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleges that the Chicago-based esports tournament organizer violated rights protected by the Lanham Act and is engaging in unfair business practices prohibited by California law.
An online banking and software development company has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Facebook. The California-based social media giant is facing possible legal sanctions for using a logo that is allegedly virtually identical to one protected by a trademark issued in 2016. The logo at the center of the dispute is a tilde design that Facebook is using to promote its proposed Libra digital currency.
When California consumers enter keyword searches based on trademarked terms into a search engine, they might see results from competitors of the trademark owner. Previous legal cases have claimed unsuccessfully that competitors bidding on trademarked terms for keyword advertising campaigns have infringed upon the trademark holders. The courts have heard multiple cases of this type and consistently ruled that the competitors did not infringe upon trademarks because the search results did not confuse consumers.
Many California residents use Amazon Prime to order products. However, a trucking company called Prime Inc. says that Amazon is infringing on its trademark by using the word "prime" on trailers used to deliver goods. The company has filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Missouri seeking financial damages related to the infringement. Specifically, the company claims that it is entitled to three times Amazon's profits or three times the losses that the infringement has caused.
Businesses in California may want to pay close attention to their insurance coverage, especially if they will be dealing with intellectual property issues. This is illustrated in one case where a company sought coverage from their insurer for a lawsuit that accused the firm of infringing a trademark. However, the insurance company said that its policy did not provide coverage for intellectual property disputes, disclaiming its responsibility to defend the case. The company's case was dismissed after the insurance company demonstrated exclusions in its business liability and technology policies that addressed trademark infringement cases.