Prime Inc. sues Amazon Prime for trademark infringement

July 9, 2019

Greg Grisolano

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Trucking company New Prime Inc. is suing retail giant Amazon for trademark infringement, alleging Amazon’s “Prime” logos and services have confused customers and hurt the company’s bottom line.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Missouri on July 2, Springfield, Mo.-based New Prime Inc. alleges confusion from the Amazon Prime name and logo appearing on tractor-trailers has caused “irreparable injury to its business, reputation and goodwill.”

In its complaint, the trucking company argues that it has used the phrase “Prime Inc.” in business for nearly 40 years. The company has a fleet of more than 12,000 trailers in addition to offering flatbed, tanker and intermodal transportation, trucking and shipping services. The Prime Inc. logo is incorporated on each of the trailers, as well as on tractors, the company’s website, and other advertisements, according to court documents.

“Amazon’s display of one or more of the accused marks on trailer trucks and other shipping and transportation vehicles in commerce has caused and, unless enjoined by the court, is likely to continue to cause confusion (including post-sale confusion), mistake, and/or deception among consumers as to affiliation, connection, or association by creating the false impression that services provided by Amazon are provided, authorized, or endorsed by, or in some manner associated with, Prime Inc.,” the complaint states.

According to the complaint, Prime Inc. sought to register its logos for “transportation services covered by truck” in December 2011 based on the fact it had been using the marks since at least 1980. However, the complaint states that a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office attorney refused to register the marks, citing a pre-existing registration for the word “Prime” from Amazon, referring to trucking and transportation services. The USPTO attorney denied the application, citing “a likelihood of confusion with” the marks.

The complaint claims that Amazon initially filed an application to register the Prime word mark in February 2005, under the categories of customer loyalty programs and expedited shipping services. Prime’s attorneys allege that Amazon was not providing shipping services until 2015 and that the representations the company made in obtaining a registration to use the Prime word mark in transportation were false.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief as well as actual damages and attorney’s fees. The suit also seeks the cancellation of Amazon’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office registration on the name “Prime.” The plaintiffs are requesting a jury trial.

Greg Grisolano

Greg Grisolano joined Land Line in 2013. He was formerly a reporter for the Joplin Globe. He brings business writing and photography skills to Land Line, and has a passion for finding and telling stories about the people who make up the trucking industry.

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