25 June 2019Trademarks

JetBlue takes aim at Walmart over shopping service TM

JetBlue Airways is suing Walmart over its Jetblack concierge service, which the airline says is likely to cause confusion among consumers.

In the suit, filed on Friday, June 21, at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, JetBlue said that Walmart’s Jetblack initiative was a “transparent attempt to trade on the goodwill associated with the ‘JetBlue’ marks”.

Jetblack, which provides a membership-only shopping concierge service, was founded in 2017 as part of Walmart’s start-up incubator, Store No. 8.

That year, Walmart’s IP holding company, also named as a defendant, applied for trademark registration of ‘Jetblack’, which the airline says is used for goods and services including a personal concierge, e-commerce, and pop-up retail.

“The Jetblack service has already received, and will continue to receive, extensive promotional and other support from its behemoth backer, Walmart,” JetBlue said.

JetBlue fears the shopping assistant’s expansion plans will dilute its own brand, it said in the complaint.

The airline cited 43 US trademarks which it said “uniquely combine the term ‘jet’ with the colour word ‘blue’”.

“[The] defendants are offering Jetblack physical retail and pop-up retail experiences, just as JetBlue does under the JetBlue marks,” the complaint said.

JetBlue also claimed that Jetblack intend to file similar trademark registrations for other derivative marks such as ‘Jetgold’.

According to JetBlue, its marks have gained “substantial goodwill and have an excellent reputation among actual and potential purchasers of the various goods and services” offered by the company.

JetBlue is seeking an injunction preventing Walmart and its subsidiaries from using the ‘Jetblack’ or any other “confusingly similar” signs, as well as profits attributable to infringing activity.

The airline is also seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

In a statement sent to WIPR, a Walmart spokesperson said: "Walmart is an IP owner and respects the IP rights of others."

"We take this issue seriously and once we are served with the complaint, we will respond appropriately with the court," the spokesperson added.

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