Earlier this month, a leading national trucking company based out of Missouri filed suit against Amazon for trademark infringement – alleging its fleet of trucks emblazoned with the Amazon Prime logo is damaging its business.
As Amazon moved into shipping, Prime Inc’s concerns grew
Prime, Inc. operates more than 12,000 trucks across the United States and the world, all sporting the company’s name in large, block letters. According to the complaint, Prime has used its logo in commerce for nearly forty years in connection with trucking, transportation, and shipping services. As Amazon took on a more prominent position in shipping over the last few years, Prime, Inc. began to take issue.
In its complaint, Prime, Inc. claims it notified Amazon in writing two years ago of the problem, asking the tech giant to remove the “Prime” logo from its trucks. Amazon continued using its “Prime” logo, and Prime, Inc. took its complaint to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board before filing suit in Missouri.
Similar trademarks can lead to customer confusion
Damage to a business in a trademark case generally stems from customer confusion. Moreover, proof of customer confusion is one of the best ways to prove trademark infringement. Many think the actual goods must be likely to be confused to prevail in a trademark case – however, the real question is whether there is a likelihood of confusion as to the source of the goods.
Prime, Inc’s complaint claims the company has “documented multiple instances of actual customer confusion” regarding the Amazon Prime logo. Generally, this means customers have contacted the plaintiff about the defendant’s goods.
Although the upward swooping arrow synonymous with Amazon’s “Amazon Prime” services generally accompanies the word mark, operating in the trucking arena may spell trouble. If Prime, Inc. can prove its business is damaged by consumer confusion, they could set an industry giant back on its heels.