8 October 2018Trademarks

American Airlines takes company to court over ‘AA’ trademark

American Airlines has filed a trademark infringement claim against a travel service company for using its ‘AA’ mark.

The complaint was filed against Florida-based American Assist Travel Services ( AATS), Panama-based American Assist International ( AAI) and Inversiones American Assist (IAA).

American Airlines filed its claim at the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida on Thursday, October 4.

AATS, which changed its name to WTA Travel Services in March, and IAA are both subsidiaries of AAI. AATS provides travel assistance services, such as emergency medical transportation and baggage tracing, on an international level.

According to the claim, American Airlines is the largest air carrier in the world and serves more than 250 destinations in over 50 countries, conducting almost 7,000 daily flights.

“American Airlines has used and continues to use the trade names American, American Airlines and numerous trademark and service marks such as ‘AA’, ‘American’ and ‘American Airlines’, both alone and in connection with other words and designs,” said the claim.

The trademarks ‘AA’ and ‘American Airlines’ (US numbers 514,292 and 514,294 respectively) were registered in 1949 for services in class 39 relating to air transport (of people and freight).

In addition, American Airlines claimed, it has strong common law rights to the marks.

American Airlines first filed a trademark infringement claim against AATS in 2008 after the company discovered that AATS was using the ‘AA’ trademark to promote its travel-related services.

The parties entered a settlement agreement in 2009, under which AATS and AAI could register two stylised black ‘AA’ marks followed by the words ‘American Assist’, as long as they were used for limited services, including transportation of people. Only one mark was pursued.

According to the agreement, any companies associated with AATS were also subject to the settlement.

However, according to American Airlines, IAA has been using the ‘AA’ mark in blue and red font. These colours are the same that American Airlines uses for its earlier-registered ‘AA’ trademark.

In addition, American Airlines claimed that IAA has filed trademark applications for the blue and red ‘AA’ mark for services relating to transportation of people.

According to American Airlines, these actions will “deceive” the relevant public into believing that the defendants’ services are related to those of American Airlines.

American Airlines said it tried to reach a resolution with IAA’s general counsel, but was unsuccessful.

The airline is seeking a permanent injunction, the withdrawal or cancellation of any trademark applications that American Airlines claims infringe its earlier marks, and damages.

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29 January 2018   The UK Intellectual Property Office has confirmed its decision to grant a trademark opposition filed by American Airlines.