An iconic red umbrella has come under fire this week over an alleged trademark infringement. Travelers Insurance Indemnity Co. have been using the red umbrella as a part of its branding since the 1960s, but have now noticed a financial management company from Nashville have copied the iconic branding.
The lawsuit was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, alleging Virtue Capital Management LLC of trademark infringement in violation of the Lanham Act and the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. Travelers have frequently challenged an array of trademark applications that featured an umbrella as they fight to protect their brand.
It has been reported that since 2008, Travelers has seen about $150 billion in revenue and equally spent millions on marketing and advertising with their iconic image, so it is no surprise they want to defend their image. Travelers claim “the defendant adopted confusingly similar umbrella logos of its own to promote and sell its financial sector services.
In the recent Connecticut suit, Travelers claims VCM used “a prominent reddish upright umbrella logo” from March through November 2016 to promote its products on its website. Travelers claim VCM intended to file a trademark application for two versions of the mark featuring either a large or small umbrella. Travelers also claim VCM “made minor, non-material changes to the large VCM umbrella logo by replacing the umbrella handle from the logo with a box and added faint lines connecting the box to the umbrella canopy. The large VCM umbrella was otherwise unchanged.”
On multiple occasion between September 2016 and February 2017, Travelers asked VCM to “change the [large] VCM umbrella canopy logo to a parachute logo. Instead of doing so and making its brand consistent, defendant continued to use, and still uses, the VCM umbrella canopy logo to trade off the tremendous goodwill of the Travelers umbrella mark.”
So what is the possible conclusion of this case? If Travelers get their way VCM will have to stop “using the infringing umbrellas and other designs, images, logos, icons, or marks in any way for any goods or services that are confusingly similar to or likely to dilute the Travelers umbrella mark.”
Travelers is represented by David M. Kelly, Stephanie H. Bald and Jason M. Joyal of Kelly IP in Washington, D.C., and Elizabeth A. Alquist and Woo Sin Sean Park of Day Pitney in Hartford. None of the attorneys was available for comment Thursday.