from the x-factor dept
So often when we exam the really silly trademark disputes here, they’re typically between a large corporation and a much smaller entity. The reason for this should be self-evident: trademark bullies are like every other kind of bully in that they prey on those they think can be pushed around. But it isn’t always that way. In fact, some of the really stupid stuff can, in fact, happen between two massive corporations. Witness the final resolution of the fight between ExxonMobil and Fox Network, which stemmed entirely from the grand issue of interlocking “x”s.
It all started two years ago, when ExxonMobil decided that the following two logos were entirely too similar and actually argued that customers might be confused between the two companies.
Confused? No? Well, ExxonMobil sure thought you would be, which is why they filed a trademark lawsuit against Fox for $20 million, claiming that consumers would be confused into thinking the two companies were in some way affiliated or connected. It’s quite an argument to make over a couple of connected X’s, I think, especially considering the two companies operate in marketplaces about as different as could possibly be. Fox said as much at the time the suit was filed.
At the time of the lawsuit filing, a spokesperson for FX network responded, “We are confident that viewers won’t tune into FXX looking for gas or motor oil and drivers won’t pull up to an Exxon pump station expecting to get It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
Fox also pointed out that there are many other companies out there using interlocking X’s that ExxonMobil wasn’t annoying with lawsuits. An apparently real judge refused to dismiss the claim at Fox’s request, however, so this entire comedy show was all set to go to trial…
…except now there’s been a settlement. After Judge David Hittner recently granted a summary judgement in favor of Fox on the issue of actual damages (derp, there weren’t any), the only remaining issue was whether Fox should pay some kind of reasonable licensing fee to ExxonMobil over the interlocking X’s.
The dispute was scheduled to go to a jury trial on November 9. On Friday, though, both sides stipulated to a dismissal with prejudice. Terms of the settlement haven’t been revealed. Fox has declined comment.
We can’t be sure because the settlement terms aren’t public, but I suspect ExxonMobil came away from this two-year clown-show with a meaningless licensing deal for either no money at all or very, very little money (certainly less than was spent on lawyers). Still, good on them for taking on someone that could put up a fight. It’s a measure of progress of a sort, I suppose, even if it was monumentally silly.