Pinterest Loses Trademark Battle

By Joseph Mandour on October 30, 2015

pOrange County – Judges in the United States and United Kingdom ruled against Pinterest in trademark cases the company brought against Pintrips and Free118. Both cases centered on the concepts and phrases surrounding “pinning,” with Pinterest arguing that the companies infringed on its Pinterest trademark. 

The lawsuit in the United States involved a company called Pintrips, whose mobile app and website allows users to “pin” flights from travel sites to a trip board. Pinterest took the company to court in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in hopes of forcing the company to change its name, stop using any “pin” related trademarks, and pay damages.

Judge Haywood Gilliam ruled that the concept of pinning is universal and as a result cannot be owned by Pinterest. The court stated, “Pinterest cannot prohibit other companies from using the word pin to describe that well-known operation, which is exactly how the evidence demonstrates that Pintrips uses the word pin here.”

The lawsuit in the United Kingdom involved Free118, a mobile directory that uses the phrase “pinmydeal” in regard to users finding local business promotions. Pinterest used a similar argument as it did in the Pintrips case, arguing that the company is infringing on its trademark rights by using the word “pin.” The judge in this case also ruled against Pinterest, stating that the word ‘pin’ is too common. The court argued that the word “pin” is as common as the words “my” and “deal”.

The two cases may hold an impact for organizations beyond Pinterest, Pintrips, and Free118. The precedent set by these cases can help provide support for other businesses that want to use the concept of “pinning” in their business models or the phrases relating to “pinning” in their marketing, but were previously hesitant out of concern of bringing forth legal actions by Pinterest.

The legal battles of Pinterest are not yet over. The company is currently involved in a case over a regional trademark of the word “pin” in Europe. The recent court decisions in the United States and United Kingdom, however, appear to have weakened Pinterest’s claim.

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