Pintrips Unlikely to Be Confused with Pinterest

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By Blake Brittain

Oct. 22 — The Pintrips trademark—used on an Internet travel planning service—is unlikely to be confused with Pinterest and does not infringe the popular social network's trademark, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled Oct. 21.

Pinterest is a website that allows users to view, post and organize content by creating pins on a personal “Pinboard.” Pintrips is a web-based travel planning service that allows users to monitor price changes in airline flights.

Pinterest Inc. sued Pintrips Inc. for trademark infringement and dilution. The court found confusion unlikely because the services provided by the parties were different, and because Pinterest had no plans to start its own travel planning service.

“While Pinterest users undoubtedly use the service to research their travel destinations (as well as hundreds of other subjects), that fact does not render Pinterest’s social media service similar to Pintrips’s airline itinerary-tracking tool. Pinterest has no travel booking function; is not working on a travel booking function; and has no concrete plan to begin working on a travel booking function in the future,” Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr., said.

The remaining factors in the court's analysis were neutral, or weighed only slightly in favor of Pinterest.

The similarity of the marks weighed slightly in Pinterest's favor, based on similar visual and sonic impressions. The commercial strength of the Pinterest mark also weighed slightly in its favor.

The court, however, found Pintrips's intent in adopting its mark to be neutral. There was evidence that Pintrips developed its mark before ever hearing of Pinterest, but also that Pintrips chose not to alter its mark after learning of Pinterest because Pintrips “was certainly not upset” that the name “turned out to be similar to a much more well-known mark.”

The court gave little weight to two customer surveys provided by Pinterest because of errors in methodology, and the fact that both companies provided services over the internet wasn't relevant based on the broad use of the internet by “countless companies.”

The court found that Pintrips's use of the word “pin” did not infringe Pinterest's “Pin” mark, arguing that it was fair use because the word was used to describe the common act of “attaching one virtual object to another”—not to indicate the source of goods.

Pinterest was represented by Diane M. Doolittle of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, Redwood Shores, Calif. Pintrips was represented by Edward T. Colbert of Kenyon & Kenyon LLP, Washington.

To contact the reporter on this story: Blake Brittain in Washington at bbrittain@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bna.com

Full text at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Pinterest_Inc_v_Pintrips_Inc_Docket_No_313cv04608_ND_Cal_Oct_04_2/2.