Peaceful Coexistence2 Sep 2013
In 2012 we worked with Royal Caribbean to name its two newest ships. The two resulting names, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas were announced earlier this year.
Last week, Duracell, the venerable battery company announced a new battery sub-brand dubbed ‘Quantum’
You’re probably asking how Duracell can steal the name Quantum when Royal Carribean has already announced it.
Here’s the thing: it’s not stealing. When Duracell filed it’s trademark with the USPTO, the TM examiner reviewed it and used a basic tenet of trademark law which is thus: could an average person be confused?
Batteries and cruise travel are completely separate categories and thus the two products and names can peacefully coexist.
There are other examples of companies who use a similar name in different categores. For instance, Olympus has a line of cameras called Stylus, Isuzu used to make a car called Stylus.
Again, in this example, there’s no way someone is going to walk into an Izusu dealership looking for a camera.
However, there are times when there could be confusion in the area of distribution which requires what trademark lawyers refer to as a ‘coexistence agreement’.
Parameters are defined between parties ensuring that owners trademark rights are protected and consumers won’t be confused.
Apple Computer and Apple Records (the Beatles’ record label) had such a coexistence agreement developed in the 90s. The agreement stipulated that Apple Computer wouldn’t get into the music business.
However, as we all remember, in 2002 Apple announced the iPod, iTunes which then activated Apple Records lawyers. The dispute became acrimonius which resulted in the Beatles back catalog being kept off iTunes. Eventually, in 2010 the dispute was resolved and then all 13 of The Beatle’s albums appeared in iTunes.