Last week, global logistics leader United Parcel Service (more commonly known as “UPS”) sued three companies for trademark infringement. Those companies, as their names suggest, are a group of cannabis delivery companies: United Pot Smokers, UPS420, and THCPlant.
In its 23-page complaint, UPS accuses Defendants of infringing on its family of trademarks, including its UPS word mark (“UPS® Mark”) and its Shield mark (the “UPS® Shield Logo”). UPS brought claims under California and federal law for trademark infringement, trademark dilution, false designation of origin, deceptive advertising, and unfair business practices.
Not surprisingly, UPS is not amused by these cannabis companies’ use of its famous three-letter acronym or its shield logo. UPS seeks to enjoin Defendants’ use of its marks in order to protect its reputation. Reviews from a number of websites suggest that Defendants engage in deceptive business practices. UPS alleges that Defendants’ wrongful conduct “have permitted or will permit them to make substantial sales and profits on the strength of [UPS’s consumer recognition]” and that UPS consequently “has been and will be deprived of the value of the UPS® Family of Marks as a commercial asset,” if Defendants are not enjoined.
As a reminder to emerging entrepreneurs, companies disfavor unauthorized use of their registered and unregistered trademarks. Even if the industries seem remote in theory, an attempt to directly rip-off their logo or play off their names will likely result in a lawsuit. Companies do not take their intellectual property rights lightly. To be safe and avoid these situations, companies should think carefully about potential names and logos and consult legal counsel if they lack experience in this area.