Choose Energy Inc., an alternative energy company working out of San Francisco, is accusing the American Petroleum Institute (API) of using market confusion to damage its brand.
ChooseEnergy.com is a website that allows customers to explore different energy options, like wind and solar power. The site also creates pricing comparisons to show the difference between local utilities and renewable energy providers.
API is a rival energy company that uses traditional fossil fuels, like oil and gas. Recently, API purchased the domain name ChooseEnergy.org, and populated the site with information about the benefits oil and gas, including statistics and breakdowns for every state.
Choose Energy claims the name choice is a blatant attempt to cause market confusion and harm the company’s reputation. A spokesperson reported that the company had already fielded questions from confused customers on Twitter asking if the company is a political organization based on the rival site’s information.
The renewable energy advocate has owned federally registered trademarks for the Choose Energy brand since 2002. It filed a lawsuit against API, accusing the energy company of trademark infringement and unfair competition.
API has already been accused of using fraudulent social media accounts in the past. Its latest attempt at sabotage shows that the company is willing to create market confusion and mislead customers to damage rival businesses, even though both actions are violations of trademark law.
Trademark law can be tricky, and dishonest businesses know how to use loopholes in the law to avoid accountability. If an infringer is attacking your brand, you may need a licensed trademark attorney to help you fight back.
Robert G. Klein has been helping businesses defend their intellectual property for more than 20 years. If you need more information about legal options for your business, schedule a confidential consultation with him today.
[Did You Know: In 2011, an investigation concluded that API set up fake Twitter accounts to drum up support for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.]
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