JetBlue Suing Walmart Over Jetblack Name

Filed Under: JetBlue

Well here’s an interesting lawsuit.

JetBlue is suing Walmart over trademark infringement. This lawsuit is in regards to Walmart’s text-based personal shopping service, Jetblack, which was launched in May 2018.

I wasn’t familiar with this service prior to this lawsuit, and it’s apparently a “personal shopping and concierge service that combines the convenience of e-commerce with the customized attention of a personal assistant.”

JetBlue filed their complaint in Manhattan federal court last week, claiming that the use of Jetblack is a “transparent attempt” to capitalize on the goodwill associated with JetBlue’s brand. They also note that Jetblack is using other combinations of the word “Jet” and colors, like Jetgold and Jetsilver.

JetBlue claimed that the use of Jetblack causes “significant consumer confusion.”

Do keep in mind that Walmart owns the site jet.com. I imagine they’d say the name is inspired by that rather than JetBlue, though when you combine the word “jet” with a color, it certainly does make you think of the airline.

I’m obviously no lawyer, so I don’t have a “professional” opinion on this. My personal take (as a consumer) is that:

  • I do suspect that the name Jetblack is in some way trying to take advantage of the goodwill associated with the JetBlue brand, and it’s a stretch to suggest this is just a creative expansion on jet.com
  • At the same time, I’m not sure this actually causes confusion among consumers; the companies are in very different businesses, and I think JetBlue’s name is pretty well known (it’s not like people say “I’m flying Jet… wait, what color is it again?”

Do you think JetBlue has a case here?

(Tip of the hat to Live and Let’s Fly)

Comments
  1. Walmart owns Jet/Jet.com, which is a huge online retail site. I assume that’s the reason for the use of the word Jet.

  2. @Jeff +1

    That was my thought. Seems pretty legit.

    Trademarks can generally be used in different contexts (the Rangers hockey and baseball teams come to mind). And it’s not like the JetBlue trademark evokes all things Jet+Color.

  3. I think this is B.S. The term “jet black” has been around forever. I would never associate the two. I’m on Walmart’s side here.

  4. I don’t think it has anything to do with JetBlue. My suspicion is that it’s jet.com plus black as in “Amex Centurion Black Card” to suggest some type of exclusivity (at Walmart, ha!).

  5. If Jetblack were an airline, then I believe there would be a case. However, it’s a shopping service, so I don’t see how JetBlue, the airline, is being damaged – it’s not like they’re stealing their customer base.

  6. what goods and services does the jetBlue mark cover? It’s hard to imagine that it includes personal shopping. This is a ridiculous suit. Do they think Jet(any color) for any service is infringing? Seems like a waste of money to pay all of these lawyers, but you have to vigorously defend you marks otherwise you lose them

  7. “Customized attention of a personal assistant” for Walmart shoppers? That will be an interesting business model for sure.

  8. I don’t think it’s just the name “Jetblack” they have a problem with, it’s that Walmart intends to use other “Jet[color]” combinations for other products. And I’m with JetBlue on that.

    Having just one other corporate brand be “Jetblack” would likely not be that harmful to Jetblue, as they aren’t in competing businesses.

    But having Walmart release shopping services called Jetblack, Jetgold, Jetsilver, Jedred, Jetwhite, etc… THAT would dilute the JetBlue brand. Even if they don’t compete in the same industry, it does harm the brand to have lots of other extremely similar sounding names, and is damaging to things like search engine optimization.

  9. JetBlue is obligated to protect its naming, even if it knows that it’s likely to lose. Otherwise JetBlue may be seen as being ok with trade names and marks that are close to its name.

  10. It reminds of of the suit PanAm filed against Northwest back in the 80’s when Northwest named their new frequent flyer program “WorldPerks”. PanAm claimed that WorldPerks was too similar to PanAm’s own program, WorldClub. Northwest argued, and the court agreed, that PanAm could not trademark the word “World”. I would hope that the same logic would apply in this case as well.

  11. Because ‘jet black’ to refer to the colour (or really dark hair) has been around forever, it’s going to be a hard lawsuit to win. Jet is a black stone, and black is associated with luxury shopping anyway. The Stranglers’ drummer even called himself Jet Black – maybe he should sue JetBlue!

  12. I feel that if Walmart was doing anything around the travel field, JetBlue might have a leg to stand on. However, when I hear Jet Black I think more of the sleek dark black color rather than anything related to JetBlue. If there were more similarities than the name, I think they might win, however I feel like JetBlue is not going to be close to winning this suit.

  13. This is so meritless it won’t even go into a settlement. Different contexts isn’t necessarily determinative IF it would be reasonable to assume that there could be some overlap between them (i.e., a food delivery service trademark is reminiscent of a rideshare service, although both are selling different things, it is reasonble like ubereats that there could be some coexistence). But unreasonable to assume a store could be operating an airline.

  14. The jetblack term has been around before JetBlue was an airline. Doesn’t remind me of JetBlue at all unless your a die hard AVGeek.

  15. Lawyers are too idle they need some cash.

    Next stop
    BlueMoon – When they start flying into space.
    BlueAngels – This is really in the same area, flights.
    NYPD Blue – They are both in NY
    PabstBlueRibbon – This is going too far?
    Jet Li- If Hollywood isn’t enough what is?

    In other news.
    Walmart has a personal shopping service !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. I don’t think JetBlue has a case here, but then again, I am not a lawyer. If Walmart was launching an airline and naming it Jetblack, then maybe.

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