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Amazon Sued for Trademark Infringement by Prime Trucking Company

Orange County – The use of the word “Prime” on Amazon’s trucks has led to a trademark infringement lawsuit. On July 2nd, 2019, a Missouri-based trucking company, Prime Inc., filed a lawsuit in federal court in the western district of Missouri.

Prime Inc. claims to have notified Amazon of the trademark infringement more than two years ago through written correspondence, as well as proceedings that Prime Inc. initiated through the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Amazon has continued to use the Prime markings on its trucks and other vehicles for commercial use. Prime is claiming that Amazon’s actions amount to unfair competition that is intentional and malicious. Amazon.com began the Prime service in 2015 and also began shipping products in its own trucks that same year. Later, in 2016 or 2017, Amazon began to use the “Prime” trademark on its trucks. Because this is nearly 40 years after Prime Inc. started using its trademarked “Prime” logo on trucks, Prime obviously became concerned.

Prime Inc. is contending that it should be entitled to Amazon Prime’s profits with damages trebled due to the willful nature of the infringement. The “Prime” logo that the companies use are different in appearance. Amazon uses lowercase letters with a curvy font along with the Amazon smile/arrow design, while Prime Inc. uses all capital block lettering. Prime Inc. contends that the use of the word is “identical in appearance, sound, meaning, and commercial impression.” Prime Inc. believes that the use of the word “Prime” is the dominant component of Amazon’s use.

It is somewhat surprising that Amazon uses “Prime” on its trucks rather than “Amazon Prime”. In light of the preexisting use by Prime Inc., it seems that an easy resolution to the matter would simply be for Amazon to always include “Amazon” with the word “Prime” on its trucks.

Because Amazon’s use of Prime is in the same transportation field, Prime Inc. is alleging that consumers are likely to link the two together and assume that there is an association or sponsorship when that is not the case. The association may cause consumers to associate any defect, objection, or fault with Amazon’s services with Prime Inc. The lawsuit filed by Prime Inc. also alleges that Amazon misrepresented to the trademark office how it planned to use the trademark on vehicles.

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