JetBlue is suing Walmart over trademark infringement. What’s going on?
Last year, Walmart introduced an online-based personal shopping service called Jetblack. The text-message based membership services hopes to out-compete Amazon Prime and offer features like:
- Personal shopping over text message
- Fast and free delivery
- Courier delivery in lightweight, recyclable bags
- Complimentary gift wrapping with gift tag
- Curated recommendations
- Hassle-free returns by courier
- No minimum spend (including rush)
But its name sounds similar, doesn’t it? JetBlue calls Jetblack “a transparent attempt to trade on the goodwill associated with the JetBlue Marks.” It points to Walmart’s application for “Jetgold” and “Jetsilver” to argue that the Arkansas-based retailer’s use of “Jet+color” causes consumer confusion, deliberately connecting the two brands.
JetBlue is seeking a court-ordered injunction prohibiting Walmart from using any Jet+color name and will seek liquid damages.
Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office,
Trademark infringement is the unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark on or in connection with goods and/or services in a manner that is likely to cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods and/or services.
But what is the nexus between an airline and an online personal shopping service? JetBlue argues that its mark goes beyond flying to travel services and even some retail items (like clothing) that inch closer to what Walmart offers.
Thus far, Walmart is taking a cautious approach, saying only:
Walmart is an intellectual-property owner, and we respect the intellectual-property rights of others.
Walmart acquired Jet.com, a retail site, in 2016. JetBlue was established in 1999.
Two ordinary words become extraordinary when combined. There’s nothing unique about jet and there is nothing unique about blue, black, gold, and silver, especially when used to designate tiers of loyalty or quality. But JetBlue hhas a very unique meaning…the question is whether consumers actually know the difference.
I do, but what about you?