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A federal district court in Minnesota won’t block Snapchat owner Snap Inc. from using its Spectacles mark, despite a reading glasses company’s complaint that the mark is infringing ( Eyebobs, LLC v. Snap, Inc. , 2017 BL 153274, D. Minn., No. 16-CV-4276 (PJS/DTS), 5/8/17 ).
The case highlights that a logo visually similar to another may not be infringing if it clearly identifies the name of the company and is used to market wholly unrelated products.
Plaintiff Eyebobs LLC alleged that Snap’s continued use of the Spectacles mark is likely to confuse customers into thinking the social media company is sponsoring Eyebobs’ reading glasses.
But Judge Patrick J. Schiltz of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota said no likelihood of confusion exists because Snap hasn’t engaged in large-scale advertising of its Spectacles, and the marks aren’t similar. The word “Eyebobs,” displayed as a dominant part of the plaintiff’s mark, identifies the source and “greatly diminishes the possibility of confusion,” the court said.
Snap’s mark consists of a round, black-and-white eyeball against a yellow background, while Eyebob’s mark consists of an oval, black-and-white eyeball displayed against a golden-yellow background, the court said. Snap has used its mark to promote its Spectacles product—sunglasses with a built-in camera that transmits pictures to a smartphone, it said.
The court also said confusion wasn’t likely because the companies sell different products aimed at different audiences. Snap markets a hands-free recording device that can only be used with Snapchat, an app used primarily by people between the ages of 13 and 34, the court said. Eyebobs sells reading glasses that are generally purchased by consumers over the age of 40, it said.
The court said Snap would have no reason to lead consumers to believe its product was affiliated with Eyebobs. “The Spectacles Mark was inspired by the Spectacles design; the fact that it resembles the Registered Mark is mere happenstance,” the court said.
Faegre Baker Daniels LLP represented Eyebobs. Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP represented Snap.
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