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In the US, there are two banks, Capital One and Credit One that have very similar names and more similar logos:

Is the similarity something that could be claimed under trademark infringement?

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    – Pat W.
    Commented Jun 15 at 0:53

3 Answers 3

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If you accept the opinion of the writer of this US News & World Report article, which says:

It's easy to mistake Credit One for Capital One. With similar names, logos, prequalification offers and options for rebuilding credit, these two credit card issuers have a lot in common.

then these logos could be confusingly similar.

And Forbes says:

Although the similar logos and names can confuse consumers when it comes to distinguishing between Credit One and Capital One, the two credit card issuers are not related. Some may assume Credit One is an offshoot of Capital One, but this isn’t the case.

There's a similar discussion on Quora:

Would a company like Capital One have a legal case against a company like Credit One for imitating their logo design?

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    The CreditOne logo trademark was filed in 2013, and was cancelled or invalidated in 2020. The CapitalOne logo trademark was filed in 2010, renewed in 2020, and is still active. Not sure how that makes Credit One first.
    – jcaron
    Commented Jun 14 at 15:52
  • The "Credit One were first" myth is due to an incorrect Bloomberg article; and example of something pointless to discuss on the internet due to the irrelation between facts and google search.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 14 at 23:15
  • @Fattie Thanks, I've removed that part of my answer. But I left the link to the discussion, since the rest may be relevant.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jun 15 at 20:25
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If the defendant's use of the mark to identify goods or services causes a likelihood of confusion, it is trademark infringement (A&H Sportswear, Inc. v. Victoria's Secret Stores, Inc., 237 F.3d 198 (3rd Cir. 2000)).

To assess likelihood of confusion, courts generally apply a multifactor test (see A&H Sportswear, internal citations removed):

Our conclusion that the Lapp factors may be used to determine the likelihood of confusion in cases of directly competing goods, at least when the marks are not identical, accords with the approaches of the Second, Sixth, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits, which also have approved using multi-factored tests, developed for noncompetitive goods, in the competitive goods arena.

As explained above, we do not hold that a District Court must use the factors. In fact our precedents suggest the opposite. If products are directly competing, and the marks are clearly very similar, a district judge should feel free to consider only the similarity of the marks themselves.

In the Third Circuit, these are known as the Lapp factors, but they are similar across circuits:

  1. the degree of similarity between the owner's mark and the alleged infringing mark;

  2. the strength of the owner's mark;

  3. the price of the goods and other factors indicative of the care and attention expected of consumers when making a purchase;

  4. the length of time the defendant has used the mark without evidence of actual confusion arising;

  5. the intent of the defendant in adopting the mark;

  6. the evidence of actual confusion;

  7. whether the goods, competing or not competing, are marketed through the same channels of trade and advertised through the same media;

  8. the extent to which the targets of the parties' sales efforts are the same;

  9. the relationship of the goods in the minds of consumers, whether because of the near-identity of the products, the similarity of function, or other factors;

  10. other facts suggesting that the consuming public might expect the prior owner to manufacture both products, or expect the prior owner to manufacture a product in the defendant's market, or expect that the prior owner is likely to expand into the defendant's market.

From your question, all we have is evidence about factor #1 (the degree of similarity between the owner's mark and the alleged infringing mark), and you are in as good a position as any of us to assess that factor. But for what it's worth, the fact that the marks use a prominently different name ("CapitalOne" vs. "CreditOne") weighs against similarity in my view, while the similar swoosh weighs in favour of similarity in my view.

Other people may assess that factor differently, and there may be evidence not disclosed in the question about the other factors.

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    Also: Color is quite important, the left logo has the striking red swoosh.
    – Trish
    Commented Jun 13 at 7:12
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    @Trish, color is moderately important. A basic principle of logo design is that the logo should be recognizable even when displayed in black-and-white. (Now, color may be quite important in other trademark circumstances, such as UPS's use of brown.)
    – Mark
    Commented Jun 13 at 22:19
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The extremely simple answer is that you will very likely get sued.

This is very commonplace.

There are endless famous examples.

Google "famous trademark infringement cases".

(There are so many it's hardly worth mentioning a specific one, but the UnderArmor trademark case was a recent high-value one, for example.)

https://www.business.com/articles/5-trademark-cases-and-what-you-should-learn-from-them/

https://trademarkroom.com/blog/item/notable-trademark-infringement-cases/

https://corsearch.com/content-library/blog/nine-nasty-trademark-infringement-cases-and-how-to-avoid-them/

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=f2482af7-6eec-42e5-a0fc-acc5f0e1821e

https://www.finnegan.com/en/insights/articles/call-your-next-witness-some-recent-trademark-cases-that-went-the-distance.html

https://www.registrationwala.com/knowledge-base/ipr-services/trademark-infringement/7-biggest-trademark-infringement-cases

(Note that the "capital one / credit one" situation is the single most famous example of that not happening, for whatever reason. It is pointless discussing the details as it has become a "google search mess" urban myth. But it's a great example of the fact that if you are in danger of getting sued, for anything then it just might be that you get away with it.)

Trademark / name infringement is very subtle and of course differs throughout the world. And of course the interpretation of visual logos is subjective and difficult, and depends on case law.

Hence, in re the literal question

"Can you" make a logo very similar to an existing trademark?

If you do so, you will very likely be sued. (Of course, as with any time you are likely to be sued, either (A) for whatever reason, the other company won't sue you, or, (B) you could get sued and win the case.)

Your "Credit One" example is the perfect example of "A".

Is the similarity something that could be claimed under trademark infringement?

Yes, it's extremely commonplace - a hundred examples in the links above.

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