Walmart Inc. has found itself in the center of a legal battle with one of the country’s largest airlines.
On Friday, JetBlue Airways Corp. filed suit against the retail behemoth, alleging trademark infringement over its use of the name Jetblack for its text-to-shop service.
The complaint, which was introduced in the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York, accused Walmart of “a transparent attempt to trade on the goodwill” associated with the passenger carrier. (It named Jet.com as a defendant.)
JetBlue also claimed that the Bentonville, Ark.-based company’s expansion of the service could lead to “significant consumer confusion.” In the lawsuit, it warned of future infringements should Walmart debut additional “Jet+color” brands, such as Jetgold or Jetsilver, which could dilute its own trademark and set the companies up for competition in the travel, entertainment or dining sectors.
“JetBlue is a well-loved and recognized company with a brand that reflects over 20 years of hard work, investment and passion,” the airline told FN. “Our brand is at the heart of what we stand for — taking care of our customers and crew members — and we will defend it vigorously.”
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JetBlue is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
The membership-based Jetblack service was co-founded by Jet.com founder Marc Lore, developed by Walmart’s startup incubator, Store No. 8 and spearheaded by Rent the Runway co-founder Jenny Fleiss. It officially rolled out in May 2018, marking the retailer’s strongest push into the conversational-commerce space, which combines the scalability of artificial intelligence with the human element of personal shopping.
In a statement sent to FN, a Walmart spokesperson wrote, “Walmart is an intellectual property owner and respects the intellectual property rights of others. We take this issue seriously, and once we are served with the complaint, we will respond appropriately with the court.”
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