Trademark

by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
thank you, trademark

Companies:
at&t, citigroup



And Just Like That, The Dumbest Trademark Suit Over Saying 'Thank You' Disappears

from the you're-welcome dept

It is with mostly pleasure, but a little bit of sadness, that I am here to inform you, dear reader, that the idiotic trademark lawsuit brought by Citigroup against AT&T because it dared to say "thank you" to its customers is dead. Yes, what started only a couple of months ago as an unintentional test to see just how far a large corporation could twist trademark law out of its useful intentions has been dropped by both parties with prejudice, meaning that no further legal action can be taken on the matter.

At issue was AT&T including the phrase "thank you" in some of its messaging and branding. Citigroup, as it turns out, somehow got the USPTO to approve a trademark for the phrase "thankyou" and declared that, largely because the two companies had done some co-branding work in the past, customers might be confused by an AT&T ad thanking them for their business into thinking that it has something to do with Citigroup. I read the argument Citigroup made in its filing as to why this confusion was likely, but my brain came to a screeching halt every few sentences, distracted by questions like, "How much can a bank's lawyers drink during the day?" and "Precisely how many peyote buttons would I have to swallow before 'thank you' equalled 'Citigroup' in my addled mind?"

Yet the end of this lawsuit was easily predicted after the court refused Citigroup's initial request for an injunction against AT&T. That court opinion went further in explaining to Citigroup the flimsy nature of its position than it had to, almost as a warning not to pursue this any further. And, this week, the banking company relented.

Citigroup Inc (C.N) and AT&T Inc (T.N) have ended a court battle over whether the "AT&T thanks" customer loyalty program infringed Citigroup's trademark in the phrase "thankyou." The resolution may help preserve a relationship between Citigroup and AT&T dating to 1998 that includes 1.7 million U.S. customers with co-branded credit cards.

"We have decided not to pursue this matter any further and look forward to continuing to work with AT&T," Citigroup spokeswoman Jennifer Bombardier said in a statement.

I'm sure AT&T appreciates Citigroup dropping the suit, but it's probably searching for an allowable phrase to express that kind of gratitude. What this may have more to do with is AT&T's defense that basically consisted of pointing out the ridiculousness of a single company being able to trademark a common phrase like "thank you," or iterations of it, for any category of anything ever. The end of the suit likely means the end of AT&T's challenge to the trademark, which is unfortunate.

We'll have to see if Citigroup has learned its lesson, or if it will choose to bring legal action against any other thankful companies in the future.


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  • icon
    afn29129 (profile), 23 Aug 2016 @ 2:56pm

    AT&T to CitiCorp

    Thank You. Nyah! Nyah! Nhay! PTHBzzz (raspberry). Thank you. Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OldGeezer (profile), 23 Aug 2016 @ 3:28pm

    I wonder if I could get a trademark for the phrase "fuck you" and sue anyone that uses it? Makes just about as much sense!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 23 Aug 2016 @ 5:20pm

      Re:

      I wonder if one could defend against a trademark or patent lawsuit by attempting to have the USPTO declared incompetent. It's not like there's any shortage of examples to back such a defense.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2016 @ 3:52pm

    Stockholder question for Citigroup Management and Directors

    You paid our legal department for doing WHAT?????

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2016 @ 4:03pm

      Re: Stockholder question for Citigroup Management and Directors

      Citigroup Management and Directors: But, but, we thought we were going to make you a crapload of money off of it.

      Stockholder: Ah.. how generous of you. See if you can find someone else to sue for being thankful. I know you can do it!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2016 @ 4:32pm

    So Citigroup lives to sue another day over a ridiculous trademark on "Thank you".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    mrtraver (profile), 23 Aug 2016 @ 6:50pm

    Newegg should start saying thank you enough to get Citigroup's attention.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      OldGeezer (profile), 24 Aug 2016 @ 5:35am

      Re:

      NewEgg's refusal to settle with trolls is one of the reasons they are my first choice for electronics. They also provide a shipping label for their 30 day return policy. I have had other sellers expect me to pay to return a DOA. One guy on Amazon sold me a hard drive that was supposed to be new that had 6,000 hours and bad sectors. I had to threaten to report him to get free shipping and a new drive.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2016 @ 8:49pm

    Remember when the old trolls insisted that Mike Masnick's opposition to the original suit meant he hated IP? Ah, IP fanboys. It's like shooting fish in a barrel - that are already dead.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      OldGeezer (profile), 24 Aug 2016 @ 5:42am

      Re:

      I haven't seen that idiot commenting for a long time. Guess he finally gave up. He left that same stupid comment no matter what the article was about.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2016 @ 8:36pm

        Re: Re:

        He hasn't been seen on Torrentfreak either after he outed himself as the one with a big angryboner for Masnick. Though every now and then he probably changes his IP address to post more of the usual crap.

        I'll grant that he's persistent. Most of the old trolls have faded away - bob, darryl, Technopolitical, Richard, hurricane head, Sam I Am, etc. It's a little less entertaining, but far, far less annoying.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Just John (profile), 23 Aug 2016 @ 9:14pm

    謝謝你

    I would love to say thank you for this interesting article, but I am afraid I would get sued. So, did they trademark it in Chinese?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Aug 2016 @ 3:01am

    I guess the trademarks on "jackass" and "asshole" were already taken.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JF (profile), 24 Aug 2016 @ 6:39am

    Court's Plan

    I was going to comment this on the first story but didn't get around to it:

    The court probably wrote more than it had to because it knew that whatever effort it expended in writing the opinion it would still be far smaller than the effort required if this stupid matter had actually been continued.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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