Paypal Sues Pandora Over the Letter “P” in Trademark Suit — Our Chicago Trademark Lawyers Have Prosecuted and Defended Trademark Suits for Over Thirty Years

When a company changes its logo to just the letter, “P” it’s hard to believe a single letter of the alphabet could be trademarked, but that’s what PayPal appears to be claiming.

According to a recent trademark infringement lawsuit PayPal filed against Pandora, it’s more than just the letter. It’s also the color and style, both of which are very similar to the logo PayPal has had for the past three years.

Currently, PayPal’s logo is two blocky, overlapping Ps in sans serif, with no counter. A very dark blue P overlaps a light blue P.

Pandora’s new logo is a single, blocky, dark blue P, on the same color spectrum as PayPal’s logo. It also has the sans serif and absence of counter as PayPal’s logo. According to PayPal, the new Pandora logo goes beyond resembling PayPal’s logo and openly mimics it.

Despite the fact the two companies are working in very different industries, PayPal’s trademark infringement lawsuit is claiming that Pandora recently changed its logo in a deliberate attempt to cause confusion among consumers.

According to reports from establishments such as the New York Post, the Washington Post, Gizmodo, and Ars Technica, mobile users with both apps are especially likely to be confused by the numerous similarities between the two logos, which are emblazoned on the apps. Such confusion allegedly does harm to PayPal, which has long understood the value of the mobile market and has invested in it heavily, including the development of their One Touch program, which was designed to make online payments even easier for their customers – a mission Pandora’s new logo is allegedly destroying.

To back up their claims, PayPal presented social media posts from users expressing confusion over the similar logos.

PayPal alleges Pandora changed its logo to one that has been experiencing rising popularity, allegedly hoping the more recognizable logo would help the company catch up with its competitors, including Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to refresh a brand’s image – companies do it all the time – but Pandora admits it had more than 1,000 alternative new logos to choose from when it was undergoing its rebranding initiative. To choose something so close to an already existing, well-known logo by an established brand is too much to be coincidental, PayPal alleges.

Among the damages incurred, PayPal stated that it has worked hard to create a user-friendly experience, including creating a logo that stands out from the crowd. By using a strikingly similar logo, Pandora is allegedly disrupting that ease of use on which PayPal prides itself. PayPal customers have openly complained about the confusion, thereby causing damage to PayPal’s reputation and business.

PayPal also claims the lawsuit is a last resort. The company says it privately contacted Pandora in a civil manner as soon as it began receiving complaints about the logos from customers. PayPal asked Pandora to revise the new logo, but after a series of conversations and letters, Pandora still refused to do so. In its complaint to the court, PayPal insists filing the lawsuit was the only option it had left to protect its legitimate business interests.

But presenting to a court the prospect owning an entire letter in the Alphabet will be a steep hurdle to overcome particularly when the two companies lines of business are so different.  Paypal will have to show many instances of customer confusion or other types of damages to prevailing and it will have a long and hard road before it.

Super Lawyers named Illinois business trial attorneys Peter Lubin, Patrick Austermuehle and Andrew Murphy Super Lawyers or Rising Stars in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. Lubin Austermuehle’s Illinois business trial lawyers have over thirty years of experience in litigating complex class action, copyright, non-compete agreement, trademark and libel suits, consumer rights and many different types of business and commercial litigation disputes including lawsuits between businesses or between shareholders and owners of the same business.  Our Hinsdale, Lake Bluff and Winnetka business dispute lawyers handle emergency business law suits involving copyrights, trademarks, injunctions, and TROS, covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud. You can contact us by calling at 630-333-0333.  You can also contact us online here.

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