PayPal Sues Pandora Over Yawn-Inducing Logos And Tweets About People Opening The Wrong App
from the zzzzzzzz dept
We’re going to jump right into this one without too much of a preamble, other than a quick refresher on what trademark law is designed to accomplish and what triggers a concern for infringement. The idea behind the law itself is to allow companies to utilize unique identifiers, be it name or branding, in order to distinguish itself from competitors by monopolizing those trademarkable items. The chief concern regarding infringement, therefore, is real or potential customer confusion in the marketplace as to the source of a particular product or service. With that out of the way, let’s have some fun discussing how a recent lawsuit filed by PayPal against Pandora gets just about everything wrong with respect to the above preamble.
In October 2016, Pandora announced it was redesigning its logo from a thin, serifed “P” into the chunky, sans serifed “P” that it is today. The color scheme was also changed from midnight blue to a softer shade of blue. By comparison, PayPal’s logo, active since 2014, also features a minimalist-looking “P” in a sans serif font and sporting a blue color palette. PayPal’s mark actually consists of two overlapping and slanted “Ps,” whereas Pandora keeps it to one. Both P’s lack a hole.
It’s over these two logos that PayPal has filed its lawsuit. Here they are, side by side.
Are they similar? I mean, maybe, but only as a function of how minimalist and non-unique each are. Each logo chiefly consists of a blue “P”, except one logo has a single “P” and the other has two “Ps” of varying blue-ness and then slants them. As far as ingenuity into a logo design goes, it’s not exactly Rembrandt. If you choose to make your identifying branding for your company as blasé as this, what exactly did you expect?
But the problems don’t end there. The lawsuit itself is rife with examples of what PayPal insists are customer confusion in the marketplace. Here’s an example.
Except that isn’t really the sort of confusion that trademark law is supposed to deal with. The interest is in keeping the public from mistaking the origin of a product. That isn’t happening in the examples in the filing. Once the music starts playing when a person intended to use PayPal to pay for something, it’s not as though that person begins thinking that Pandora suddenly is handling payment processing requests. What those social media posts are really pointing out is that the logos used in each products’ app aren’t sufficiently unique to be easily identifiable. Coupled with the fact that Pandora and PayPal don’t actually compete with one another, the angle of customer confusion as the basis for a trademark infringement is rather head-scratching.
But the larger point is that for trademark law to fulfill its original purpose, names and branding need to be unique. If companies choose not go the unique route, it shouldn’t be possible for them to then bludgeon non-competing companies over the head with their trademarks.
Filed Under: confusion, likelihood of confusion, p, trademar
Companies: pandora, paypal
Comments on “PayPal Sues Pandora Over Yawn-Inducing Logos And Tweets About People Opening The Wrong App”
Hmm, I thought that the “customer confusion” in the screenshot was just a joke.
Of course, it could also be that my sarcasm detector is too sensitive. It’s not like it never happened before 🙂
I had the feeling it was sarcastic commentary as well.
I bet one can find a similar P in a thousand places, including other people’s registered marks. App icons.. lol, good luck.
Re: Re: Poe'd?
It’s clearly a joke, but everyone knows prospective lawyers have surgery in college to remove their sense of humor.
Re: Re: Re: Poe'd?
Is that the one where they stick an icepick behind your eye and wiggle it around?
Customer confusion? Why would you ever want to open a PayPal app anyways? Paypal is backend stuff that should fit seamlessly into someone ELSES application.
Besides, you’re likely to open the wrong app just by fat fingering. Forget about “consumer confusion”.
I got confused when I went to pee and suddenly all my money got sucked down the toilet.
But… the p and the pp have no p hole!
I’m gonna start adding IP to my list of things that cause a form of brain damage.
I just wonder which causes the most brain damage, a law degree or a business management degree.
Re: Re: Re:
Clearly the law degree.
Re: Re: Re: Re:
I didn’t know peeing caused brain damage?!?
Or is a symptom of.
Perhaps it’s similar to Dunning-Kruger: The less one understands about IP, the more strongly they see it as a positive thing.
Maybe PayPal thinks its mark is famous. They don’t have to show a likelihood of confusion or any competition between themselves and Pandora if that’s the case (assuming they’ve alleged it and the mark is in fact found to be famous).
trust me they both have holes ….
just not the letter we’re thinking of ..me think one needs begin at the start of the alphabet
if this don’t make your funny list ….
Can I kill the stupid people…. Please let me kill the stupid people (In a whining voice) It’s not murder really, it’s natural selection. only the strong survive.
Not sure if this is helpful but was my first thought on reading the article.
And here I thought the name of the app under each logo would be sufficiently differentiating… or does PayPal think that its name is now spelled P-A-N-D-O-R-A?
Vault Hunters keep showing up at their offices. It’s like Pokémon Go all over again.
Both should be sued...
Well, I thought rounded corners are property of apple, so both logos using rounded corners is kinda dubious…
And using the alphabet, is obviously google’s property, so any of that glyphs like ‘P’ is not really theirs to take.
Pandora’s box is known to existed since long before these companies, so claiming that name to be unique is kinda huge stretch…
Doesn't Pay Pay own the color blue?
Blue P's Matter!
To P or not to P …
Re: Blue P's Matter!
Two P or not two P
It seems to me that this is less a matter of “customer confusion” between two trademarks, than a case of “customer carelessness” choosing between two icons…
… so, hardly a matter for a trademark law dispute.
We all know that popular online radio apps aspire to be confused with unpopular payment processing companies.