The court battle between the technology giant AT&T, and banking giant Citigroup, has come to a close recently, when both companies dropped the claims on each other.
Citigroup sued AT&T in June over the use of “AT&T Thanks” in a customer loyalty program, which gives customer reward like 2-for-1 movie tickets. The US bank claimed that the term was too similar to their trademark phrase “ThankYou” that Citi has been using for its credit card rewards points program.
According to the lawsuit filed by the Citigroup:
“For many years, Citigroup has used trademarks consisting of and/or containing the term ThankYou, including ThankYou, Citi ThankYou, CitiBusiness ThankYou, ThankYou From Citi, and ThankYou Your Way, in connection with a variety of customer loyalty, reward, incentive, and redemption programs (collectively, the “ThankYou Marks”). As a result of Citigroup’s longstanding, extensive, and widespread use, marketing, and promotion of its ThankYou Marks and services, Citigroup’s ThankYou Marks are widely recognized by the general consuming public as a designation of source for Citigroup’s high quality financial services and customer loyalty, reward, incentive, and redemption programs.”
AT&T responded that Citigroup do not have monopoly over the word “thanks” and sought a court order. AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook said, “This may come as a surprise to Citigroup, but the law does not allow one company to own the word ‘thanks’. We’re going to continue to say thanks to our customers.”
The U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest rejected request for a preliminary injunction against “AT&T Thanks”. She said that Citigroup failed to prove that “AT&T Thanks” could confuse the customers or cause some kind of irreparable harm to the bank. Forrest added that even though “AT&T Thanks” and Citigroup “ThankYou” have almost similar pronunciation and letters, they both “convey a message of gratitude.” The case was cancelled within 11 days.
Jennifer Bombardier, Citigroup spokeswoman stated that, “We have decided not to pursue this matter any further and look forward to continuing to work with AT&T.” Commenting on that, Fletcher said, “We consider the matter closed.”
The decision to drop the case may help to maintain the long-term relationship between AT&T and Citigroup, as around 1.7 million US customers are using their co-branded credit cards.