Moab’s Poison Spider Bicycles has lost its recent trademark infringement case to a California company with a similar name: Poison Spyder Customs.
While both companies share similar names, derived from the Poison Spider Mesa Trail, the presiding judge in the case ruled that there was not enough information to suggest that Poison Spyder Customs was guilty of infringement. The basis for trademark infringement cases is the potential likelihood of confusion between similar marks. One of the many factors that must be taken into consideration in any infringement case is the degree of similarity between the logos.
U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups found that, despite the fact the two companies use the names “Poison,” they are designed to convey different meanings. Waddoups included the fact that the two companies’ names end with different words, which suggest different meanings.
The court documents also note that the difference between the words “customs” and “bicycles” suggest two entirely different groups of clientele. Waddoups found that the PSB logo has not only varied over the years, but makes more of an attempt to resemble an actual spider, whereas PSC uses a “stylized” graphical representation not intended to be an accurate representation of an arachnid existing in nature.
The court also found that both the defendant and plaintiff’s names are derived from a well-known geographical location known for both the Poison Spider biking and Jeep trails, and decided that there was not enough evidence to prove the defendant intended to benefit from Poison Spider’s recognition as a brand.
“Unfortunately for us, Judge Waddoups decided to go with the larger company that started after us,” said Poison Spider Bicycles’ Scott Newton. “We both named ourselves after Poison Spider Mesa. One question I asked during my deposition was for them to show me on a map where it is spelled with a ‘y.’ my 11-year-old daughter even knows how to spell ‘spider’ right.”
Newton and the Poison Spider Bicycles team said they feel like the defendants knew that “they were taking a brand name that was already in use.” It’s a notion that still bothers Newton.
“Waddoups felt ‘At best, plaintiff has created a following for its mark in the cycling enthusiast community in and around Moab, Utah.’ He felt we have ‘niche market fame’ and are only famous in the Moab cycling community or throughout southern Utah. I would have to disagree as we have customers from all over the world,” Newton said.
Judge Waddoups’ ruling also stated that Newton did not present enough documented examples of confusion between the two brands, citing that customers had seen the defendant’s Jeep logos and thought they were affiliated with the bicycle shop. He also found there is no overlap between customers. Newton disagrees with that.
“I am not happy with the outcome and question what a U.S. trademark really offers. At this point I just want to put the case behind me and continue to build on our brand,” Newton said.