Path throws a Punch at Pinterest over “P” Trademark

By Joseph Mandour on September 16, 2013

California Trademark LawOrange County – The fight is on for the letter P!  Back in 2012, Pinterest, Inc. filed a U.S. Trademark Application for its “P” logo , which is featured as the design on its app icon.  Everything seemed to be going fine for Pinterest as the Trademark Application was approved by the USPTO and the Application published for Opposition this past July.  Then in August, the owners of Path, Inc.,  a competing social networking company, filed a request for an extension of time to file an opposition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB).

Path, which also uses a similar P design, feels that it will be harmed if Pinterest is granted the exclusive right to use its “P” design.  By filing the request for extension, Path is likely trying to buy itself more time to work out a deal with Pinterest prior to  litigating the matter.   A quick examination of Path’s and Pinterest’s respective “P” designs shows that they are almost identical, with both depicting a white curly letter P against a red backdrop.  However, the Pinterest P design U.S. Trademark Application at issue does not include color as a feature of the trademark.

Path’s Request for Extension will provide the company with 90 days to file an opposition.  If it wins the opposition, it will not be able to block Pinterest from using its “P” design.  Rather, it will only stop the registration of the particular stylized “P” being applied for in the current trademark application. To prevent the use of the stylized P, Path would have to file a complaint in court seeking an injunction.

This most recent flare up between the two social media operators highlights the problem that many start-up app companies are facing: how to come up with a logo that is both app icon friendly and unique.  With the virtually endless amount of web based apps popping up every day, it is becoming more and more difficult to design an effective logo that does not infringe on any other existing trademarks.  As this case illustrates, unknowingly settling upon a logo that another app is using can cause big problems down the road, even for well funded and successful social media sites like Pinterest and Path.

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