22 October 2018Trademarks

Weight Watchers takes on competitor in trademark battle

Weight loss company Weight Watchers has accused Delaware-based competitor Noom of infringing the company’s trademarks to advertise Noom’s own services.

The complaint was filed at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on Friday, October 19.

In its complaint, Weight Watchers—which last month rebranded to WW in order to focus on “overall health and wellness”—described itself as the “world’s leading commercial provider of weight-management services”.

Noom also offers weight-loss services, through its mobile app.

However, according to Weight Watchers, Noom has decided to “free ride” off Weight Watchers’ goodwill and reputation by making “baseless, false and misleading comparative claims”.

Weight Watchers also accused Noom of using its trademarks to draw attention and market Noom’s competitive products and services.

Weight Watchers has registered a number of marks at the US Patent and Trademark Office, including ‘Weight Watchers’ (trademark number 4,084,983), ‘WW’ (4,990,178) and ‘Points’ (2,139,767).

The claim said that these marks have become distinctive designations of products and services uniquely associated with Weight Watchers due to their widespread and “favourable public acceptance”.

According to the claim, Noom has used social media to disparage Weight Watchers by claiming that the company’s products and services are “obsolete and ineffective” compared to Noom’s own services.

In addition, Weight Watchers alleged that Noom has communicated misleading claims on its website and in marketing emails.

For example, Weight Watchers said that in an email sent in 2017, Noom claimed that Weight Watchers does not have an app. Weight Watchers disputed this claim and said that it has used a mobile app since 2009.

“Defendant also harms consumers by falsely promising that its weight-loss products and services are ‘proven’ effective (they are not) and claiming that consumers can achieve permanent and life-long weight-loss after using defendant’s programme for 16 weeks (they cannot),” alleged Weight Watchers.

The company added that it has sent multiple letters to Noom objecting to the “unlawful conduct”.

According to Weight Watchers, Noom’s advertising on social media has made false and misleading claims about Weight Watchers’ products and services while also infringing the company’s marks to market Noom’s products and services.

For example, one of Noom’s online advertisements reads: “You aren’t still on MySpace, so why are you doing Weight Watchers®? A smarter way to lose weight.”

Weight Watchers is seeking triple damages and an injunction.

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12 May 2017   Weight Watchers, which sells various products to help with weight loss, has sued a British couple for trademark and patent infringement over their weight loss help app.