Zippo is in a trademark battle with Lorillard, the third biggest tobacco company in the nation, over the Blu brand name. As of now, the name “Blu” is being used to identify both a type of Zippo lighter and a popular brand of electronic cigarette.
Zippo claims that they filed a trademark on the name Blu in 2005 to distinguish their butane lighters, which spout a blue flame. Zippo has been selling Blu lighters since 2007.
North Carolina-based tobacco company Lorillard acquired Blu brand electronic cigarettes in 2012 and they quickly gained popularity. In the current market, Blu accounts for around half of all electronic cigarettes sold. Lorillard is asking the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to dismiss Zippo’s challenge.
Another Company is Using My Trademark. How Do I Prove It?
In the case of trademark infringement, the senior user (the company or individual who was using the name first) must prove that the similarity in name or trademark will confuse consumers and hurt their brand. Factors that may become relevant in this case include:
- Strength of the senior user’s mark: How popular and recognizable is the Blu brand?
- Similarity of the products and service: A butane lighter and an electronic cigarette may not seem similar, but since they are both marketed to smokers, Zippo could have a good case for customer confusion.
- Likelihood that the senior user will bridge the gap: If Zippo can establish the likelihood that they will branch into electronic cigarettes in the future, they can make an even stronger case that Lorillard’s Blu brand will hurt future business ventures.
Here at Klein Litigation, we know that your company’s trademark is more than a name or image. It is a mark that helps the public identify your brand, and creates a bond of trust with your customers. If you need help to protect your brand, call Klein Trial Lawyers. We can help keep your trademark and business safe from imitators.
Did You Know: After five years on the Principal Register, a trademark may be considered incontestable, or immune from legal challenge.
Klein Trial Lawyers—Los Angeles Business Litigation Lawyers