What does an American airline and one of the world’s largest supermarket chains have in common? Not much, one would think. However, JetBlue Airways Corp. and Walmart Inc. share more than just an association with the color blue.
JetBlue has filed a claim for trademark infringement against Walmart for using the name Jetblack for the brand’s mobile personal shopping service, according to U.S. News. Walmart launched the service in 2018 in an effort to compete with Amazon Prime. However, with a $50 subscription fee and a potential trademark violation, Jetblack may find some difficulty competing.
The airline alleges that the supermarket not only infringed on its trademark by using the name Jetblack, but that it also intended to begin use of other “Jet+color” combinations, and to begin offering similar services. This, as you can see, could certainly lead to some consumer confusion, which is at the heart of trademark infringement.
Trademark infringement occurs when a person or entity unlawfully utilizes the trademark of another in connection with competing or related goods or services. To have a viable claim for infringement, the rightful owner, in this case JetBlue, would have to prove that the unauthorized use of the mark would cause consumer confusion. To determine the likelihood of consumer confusion, the similarity of the marks, as well as the relatedness of the goods or services provided are taken into account.
While JetBlue could have a viable claim consumer confusion if the supermarket proceeded on their “Jet+color” combination agenda, the airline could also claim trademark dilution for diminishing the uniqueness of the brand’s mark.
Either way, it will be interesting to see how JetBlue will proceed with its suit and how the mega chain will be affected in the weeks to come.