Monday, May 7, 2012

My Neighborhood Trademark Infringement

tm signJust in time for INTA

Walking down the street to get some quarters from the bowling alley, I passed a sign taped to a lamp post.  It caught my eye, and I had wait for the light to change before I could cross the street, so I took a closer look.

“A new gym in the neighborhood.  Awesome!  Maybe I’ll check it out; it would be nice to walk instead of BARTing or driving to the gym.”  Then I saw the logo and became slightly puzzled.  “Is this a subsidiary of 24 Hour Fitness, or related in some other way?  If it is, maybe my 24 Hour membership will work there and I could start using it now without any extra fees.” 

The fact that this question even came up in my mind – is this gym related to another gym I know – raises trademark concerns.  Here is a closer view of the logo on the flyer:

tm sign

And here is one of the 24 Hour Fitness logo:

Same colors, same use of a red circular shape, outlined in blue with white text in the middle.  The fonts are different, the names are different and the word “fitness” is in a different color, but there’s still a lot of visual similarity between the two.

The standard for trademark infringement is whether a mark is confusingly similar to another mark.  I was confused.  Mr. Trizzle wasn’t.  “They have different names.”  What do you think?  Would you wonder if the two were part of the same company?

After looking at the poster in more detail, I decided the gym is likely not related to 24 Hour Fitness, but I’m still not sure.  In either case, I think the new gym is trying to use 24 Hour’s reputation and strong presence in the area to its advantage, which is still a problem.

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