23 December 2019TrademarksSarah Morgan

American Airlines takes Delta to court over TM

American Airlines has sued Delta Air Lines over the rival airline’s alleged infringement of the ‘Flagship’ trademarks.

American Airlines, in a lawsuit filed Friday, December 20 at the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, accused Delta of using the terms “flagship”, “Flagship” and “FLAGSHIP” to promote its own airport lounges and premium services and interiors.

According to the suit, Delta’s use of these terms is confusingly similar to American Airlines’ well-established ‘Flagship’ marks.

American Airlines has used its trademarks, which include ‘Flagship’, ‘Flagship Lounge’ and ‘Flagship Suite’, to describe premium air travel services for first and business class passengers since the 1930s.

The suit added: “This confusion is only amplified because Delta is using these terms to promote its own premium air travel services—which just so happen to be the very same services in which American has used its Flagship marks for decades. This is no coincidence.”

Delta has been accused of using the ‘Flagship’ as marks of its own with the expectation of generating confusion in the marketplace and of using advertisements and press releases to “chip away” at American Airlines’ Flagship brand in several ways.

This chipping away comes in the form of Delta using “flagship” to describe its own premium-level plane interiors and associated in-flight services and, from mid-2017, using the term “flagship” to refer to certain of its market-specific aeroplanes.

Recently, said American Airlines, Delta has begun directly selling flight tickets by using the term “Flagship” to indicate premium-level interiors and services for certain flights.

“Delta considers American Airlines to be one of its biggest competitors—if not its biggest competitor. Some of Delta’s chief marketing strategies include persuading consumers to choose Delta over American Airlines, and attempting to persuade loyal American customers to switch their loyalty to Delta,” alleged American Airlines.

The suit went on to claim that competing with American Airlines is so central to Delta’s marketing strategies that its infringement of the Flagship trademarks “must be a tactical, strategic choice”.

American Airlines is seeking a finding of wilful trademark infringement, a permanent injunction and damages.

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