19 August 2016Trademarks

Citigroup fails to prevent AT&T from thanking customers

Citigroup has lost its attempt to prevent telecoms company AT&T from using the terms ‘Thanks’ and ‘Thank You’, following a failed request for a preliminary injunction.

In a ruling handed down at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Katherine Forrest ruled that “dozens upon dozens” of companies had used the terms and that an injunction preventing AT&T from using them was not justified.

Citigroup sued AT&T at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York in June.

In the complaint, the financial services corporation said AT&T’s reward programme called ‘AT&T Thanks’ infringed trademarks it owns for terms including ‘ThankYou’ and ‘Citi ThankYou’, used for its own customer loyalty schemes.

AT&T applied to trademark ‘AT&T thanks’ at the US Patent and Trademark Office on April 7 this year.

In seeking a preliminary injunction, Citigroup claimed that AT&T’s marks were likely to cause confusion and constitute unfair competition, false designation of origin and trademark infringement.

But in the judgment, published on Thursday, August 11, Forrest rejected the request.

“AT&T has advanced evidence indicating that, both before Citigroup first began using its ‘Thank You’ mark and since that time, there are and have been dozens upon dozens of goods, services, and entities that made use of variations on the words ‘thanks’ and ‘thank you’,” Forrest wrote.

She added that a number of these companies had registered trademarks for the terms that were specifically targeted to loyalty and reward programmes.

Forrest added: “AT&T has advanced concrete evidence that requiring it to halt use of the ‘AT&T Thanks’ name would be an expensive and significant disruption.”

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More on this story

13 June 2016   Financial services corporation Citigroup has sued telecoms company AT&T for trademark infringement.
23 August 2016   Citigroup has dismissed its trademark infringement claim against AT&T following a failed request for a preliminary injunction that sought to prevent the telecoms company from using the terms ‘Thanks’ and ‘Thank You’.