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Amazon accused of trademark infringement by Prime Inc.

Each day, Amazon transports thousands of products throughout California in delivery trucks marked "Prime," the name of its premium subscription program. However, Prime Inc., a trucking company from Missouri alleges that the online retail giant's use of "Prime" on vehicles infringes on its trademark.

On July 2, Prime Inc. filed a trademark infringement claim in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. The trucking company accuses Amazon of infringing on its exclusive rights to use the "Prime" mark and engaging in unfair competition rules outlined in the Lanham Act. Amazon is allegedly doing this despite being notified of the infringement in writing over two years ago and via a complaint presented before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. As a result, Prime Inc. considers Amazon's actions to be "intentional, willful and malicious."

For the record, the "Prime" marking that Amazon uses has a different font and style than the one used by Prime Inc. However, the lawsuit contends that the word "Prime" is the dominant component of both marks, making them essentially identical. The suit further argues that an attorney at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office agreed with that position. The lawsuit, which requests a jury trial, is seeking either three times the damages Prime Inc. sustained or three times the profits Amazon made due to its alleged trademark infringement. Amazon has not yet commented on the complaint.

With the assistance of intellectual property attorneys, trademark disputes can often be resolved before business litigation is necessary. Legal counsel can advise a client on the best ways to protect trademarks and other types of intellectual property.

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