8 January 2020TrademarksSarah Morgan

easyGroup takes on ‘pirate’ airline, sues Skyscanner and Kayak

easyGroup, the UK-based parent company of easyJet, has taken what it claims is a ‘pirate’ airline to court in the US, while also embroiling Skyscanner and Kayak in the dispute.

In a suit filed at the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida yesterday, January 7, easyGroup alleged that Colombia-based Easyfly had copied its family of marks and is now selling tickets to US consumers.

“Defendant [Alfonso] Avila ... named his airline Easyfly with the intent of copying easyGroup’s highly successful ‘easy’ family of marks in general and ‘easyJet’ in particular,” claimed the suit.

easyGroup said that it has been engaged in ongoing legal action to stop the piracy of the ‘Easyfly’ mark in Colombia and that now Easyfly is looking to expand internationally.

The UK-based company hasn’t stopped there—it’s also named travel companies Kayak, Skyscanner and Smartfares in the complaint, all of which promote travel fares and direct customers to ticket vendors.

“These parties benefit from the online traffic by using the infringing mark to offer infringing services despite the fact that they do not ultimately sell the ticket,” said easyGroup.

According to the complaint, Skyscanner and Smartfares “go even further” by creating landing pages that promote the infringing trademark and services to US customers to increase online traffic to their sites.

Kiwi, a company that sells tickets to customers forwarded by Kayak (and others), is also named in the suit.

“Although Kiwi does not display the mark, it facilitates and profits from Kayak’s use of the infringing mark and forms a part of the conspiracy to directly and contributorily infringe easyGroup’s trademarks using the counterfeit Easyfly mark,” alleged the claim.

easyGroup said that it had previously contacted Kiwi, asking it to discontinue using the infringing and counterfeit Easyfly mark on its site, but it reportedly has continued its use.

Smartfares allegedly operates a page promoting the ‘Easyfly’ mark to drive web traffic to its US website and offers promotional discounts to US customers for using the airline.

easyGroup claimed that the risk of irreparable harm is “rendered even more severe” because air-carriage is viewed by consumers as an industry requiring a high level of safety and technical care.

It added: “If the pirate airline crashes one of its planes and US consumers associate the pirate mark with the ‘easy’ family of marks it could irreparably and irreversibly undermine goodwill and trust in the plaintiff’s marks and services.”

easyGroup is seeking an injunction, an account of profits, and destruction of any goods carrying the allegedly infringing mark, in addition to damages.

In October 2019, a judge in Bogota, Colombia ordered Avila to pay easyGroup Col $30 million ($9,204) in damages, according to a release from the easyGroup site.

The two companies are also involved in a lawsuit in the UK.

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