from the drinking-from-the-gas-pump dept
On the heels of our recent story about Exxon entering a trademark spat with Fox Networks' FXX channel over the apparently confusion-inducing inclusion of interlocking "X"s in both logos, it appears that Exxon is attempting to make this a thing for some reason. That particular dispute ended in a settlement for which no terms were disclosed, but with, at least this author believes, little or no money changing hands. That said, one of the items of defense in Fox's response was to point out just how many other companies out there have logos with interlocking "X"s that Exxon wasn't annoying with its unintelligible views on trademark law. Judging by Exxon's recent suit against Nielsen Spirits over its Roxx Vodka beverage, which also has a logo using interlocking "X"s, Exxon apparently took Fox's defense as an impetus to go trademark-suit-hunting.
William Holbrook, Exxon's corporate media relations senior adviser, recently commented via email about the trademark infringement case.Outstanding, except we're in the exact same place as we were with FXX, a case in which it took two years to come to the conclusion that it is probably unlikely a customer is going to confuse oil/gasoline with a television station. I suppose in this case at least both brands represent liquids, but not even a moron in a hurry would stop by the liquor store to fill up the tank, just because a bottle inside has a "three-stroke interlocking X design" on the label. Roxx's logo doesn't even look anything like Exxon's:
"ExxonMobil is pursuing legal action against Nielsen Spirits for violating our trademark rights by using a three-stroke interlocking X design in the logo for its new 'Roxx Vodka' beverage, and using a three-stroke interlocking X design alone," Holbrook said. "The public associates the three-stroke interlocking X design with 'Exxon' and 'ExxonMobil,' and they represent a valuable part of ExxonMobil's branding. ExxonMobil has protected its three-stroke interlocking X design with numerous trademark registrations, and has been using its three-stroke interlocking X design both alone and as part of ExxonMobil's distinctive family of 'Exxon' and 'ExxonMobil' marks for decades."
The point is that trademark law has a very handy provision within it stating that, for infringement to occur, the two entities must be competing in the same marketplace and industry. Vodka isn't oil. It's only application as a lubricant is a social one, and it won't make your truck go. All the interlocking "X"s in the world won't make it otherwise, yet Exxon's filing claims the opposite.
Nice to know what they think of us, I suppose. Hopefully this suit won't take two years to go away, too...