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JetBlue sues Walmart for trademark infringement over Jetblack service

By Jonathan Stempel
FILE PHOTO: The Walmart logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - JetBlue Airways Corp has sued Walmart Inc for trademark infringement, in an effort to stop the world's largest retailer from using the name Jetblack for its text-based personal shopping service.

In a complaint filed on Friday night, JetBlue said Jetblack was a "transparent attempt" by Walmart to capitalize on the carrier's goodwill, and would likely cause "significant consumer confusion" as the service expands across the United States.

JetBlue also said Walmart intended further infringements by using other "Jet+color" names such as Jetgold and Jetsilver, and moving closer to JetBlue's core business by offering travel services, including dining and entertainment recommendations.

The complaint said JetBlue owns 43 federal trademark registrations for JetBlue marks dating as far back as 1999, the year before the Long Island City, New York-based carrier began flying passengers. JetBlue is now the sixth-largest U.S. airline.

Walmart launched Jetblack in New York City in May 2018, as part of the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer's effort to compete with such e-commerce services as Amazon.com Inc's Amazon Prime, especially in urban areas.

"We respect the intellectual property rights of others," Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said. "We take this issue seriously, and once we are served with the complaint will respond appropriately with the court."

The lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Jet.com, which Walmart bought in 2016, is also a defendant.

JetBlue and its lawyers did not immediately respond on Monday to requests for comment.

Jetblack calls itself a "personal shopping and concierge service that combines the convenience of e-commerce with the customized attention of a personal assistant," with "busy parents" among its target customers.

The business is a startup located within Store No. 8, which is Walmart's Silicon Valley-based incubation arm.

The case is JetBlue Airways Corp v Jet.com Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-05879.


(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Susan Thomas and Phil Berlowitz)