FIVE CONFUSED CUSTOMERS LEAD TO UBER INJUNCTION

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Five confused customers is all it took to stop ride-sharing company Uber Technologies Inc. from advertising in the same city as another transportation company called Uber Promotions Inc.

A federal district court has prohibited Uber Technologies from using the “Uber” mark in Gainesville, Fla., in connection with UberEVENTS, the service it unveiled last year that lets users pre-purchase rides.

The court granted the preliminary injunction because Uber Promotions sufficiently showed that consumers are likely to confuse the two companies, even though evidence of actual confusion was scant.

The court followed a seven-factor test—as set out by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit—to assess “likelihood of confusion” for purposes of trademark infringement.  Of the first six, the court found: 

  • one factor weighed heavily in favor of Uber Technologies;
  • two factors weighed slightly in favor of Uber Technologies;
  • two factors weighed slightly in favor of Uber Promotions; and
  • one factor wasn’t relevant.

The final factor—existence of actual confusion—was the deciding one.

“Were there no evidence of actual confusion, the foregoing analysis based on the other factors would counsel against finding that Promotions had shown a substantial likelihood of success on the issue of likelihood of confusion, though it would be a close call,” the court said.

Uber Promotions said it received numerous phone calls from customers looking for the ride-sharing company.   But the majority of those callers were simply misdirected or careless, according to the court. 

Only in about five instances did customers think the two companies were related. For the court, though, five was enough.

To see a previous blog post on the Uber vs. Uber case, click here