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“P” Logo Trademark – Pinterest and Path Clash

“P” Logo Trademark – Pinterest and Path Clash

Pinterest, the popular photo-sharing app, has run into copyright issues before during its brief life (a few of my posts on the topic can be found here and here.) Now it seems that they’ve found themselves in the middle of a trademark fight. This one concerns the first letter in their name, which they share with Path, a photo-sharing social media competitor.

On July 24, 2012, Pinterest filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to register their “P” logo as a trademark. The logo, seen above on the left, features a script “P” in white within a red circle. After a few minor procedural bumps, the application was approved for publication in June of this year.

What does “approved for publication” mean? Every Tuesday, the USPTO publishes the Trademark Official Gazette (or TMOG, as the kids call it). Once an application has been published in the TMOG (I pronounce it “Tee-Mog,” but that’s just me), anyone who objects to the application has 30 days to either file an opposition to the mark’s proposed registration or to request an extension of time to oppose. The latter essentially suspends the application until the opposition is filed or the extension expires.

In this case, Path filed a request to extend the time to oppose Pinterest’s application. The request was granted, and Path now has until November 13 to oppose.

The basis of Path’s opposition, presumably, would be their prior use of an arguably similar logo, which features a script “P” in white within a red (ish) square. Given that the companies’ services are similar, Path may be able to successfully oppose Pinterest’s application if (a) they can show prior use and (b) they can make a compelling case that consumers are likely to be confused as to the respective sources of the services. To put it another way, if you encountered Pinterest’s logo, and you were already familiar with Path, would you think the services were related?

Given that this is a subjective analysis, it’s hard to predict how the USPTO will respond. To my eyes, the proposed marks aren’t sufficiently similar to give rise to consumer confusion. I’m looking forward to Path’s argument to the contrary.

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