Travelers Sues British Insurance Company Over Umbrella-Shaped Logo

By Young Ha | December 5, 2013
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The Travelers Companies recently sued London, U.K.-headquartered financial services and insurance company Legal & General Group PLC (L&G Group) and its affiliates over the British company’s use of an umbrella-shaped logo.

The Travelers’ lawsuit alleges “willful dilution and infringement” of Travelers’ umbrella logo by L&G Group and its affiliates.

L&G Group and its affiliates offer various products and services including life insurance, general insurance, pensions and investments. Travelers filed its civil lawsuit at the U.S. District Court of Connecticut on Nov. 20. L&G Group uses a multi-colored umbrella logo with red, yellow, blue and green colors. The Travelers umbrella is red.

“Despite being well aware of the Travelers Umbrella Mark and the strong goodwill associated therewith, L&G Group, a company located and doing business in the United Kingdom, entered the United States market and began using an umbrella-shaped logo in connection with offering insurance and financial products and services through its affiliates L&G America, LGIMA, Banner, and William Penn,” according to the lawsuit filed by Travelers.

The lawsuit says defendants’ use of a similar umbrella logo is likely to “dilute the strong and famous Travelers Umbrella Mark, which is a unique source identifier within the field of insurance and financial products and services.”

“Travelers has worked hard to preserve the distinctiveness of its mark by, among other things, policing third-party uses in the fields of insurance and financial products and services,” according to the lawsuit filing.

The complaint says that Travelers and L&G Group “have engaged in protracted discussions over a period of several years” in an attempt to resolve Travelers’ concerns but to no avail.

The complaint says Travelers is seeking permanent injunctive relief to “stop defendants’ diluting and infringing activity, as well as monetary damages to compensate Travelers for the harm suffered as a result of defendants’ use of umbrella logos in connection with the promotion and sale of their insurance and financial products and service in violation of Travelers’ prior rights in its famous Travelers Umbrella Mark.”

Travelers is also seeking a declaratory judgment that Travelers is not bound by the agreement between L&G Group and “a subsidiary of the prior owner of the Travelers Umbrella Mark.”

The complaint says L&G Group and its affiliates have asserted that a two-page letter agreement entered into between Salomon Smith Barney and L&G Group in 1999 (the “letter agreement”) bars Travelers from asserting any trademark claims against defendants in connection with their expanded use in the U.S. of L&G Group’s umbrella logo because, according to L&G Group, the letter agreement constitutes consent by Travelers to defendants’ use.

But Travelers says in its lawsuit that it is not bound by the letter agreement or any of its terms, for several reasons. Some of these reasons include the following: Travelers says it was not a party to the letter agreement. And Travelers also says the letter agreement also contained a non-transferability clause, and it was not in fact transferred to Travelers.

The case is The Travelers Indemnity Company, plaintiff, v. Legal & General Group Plc, Legal & General America, Inc., Legal & General Investment Management America, Inc., Banner Life Insurance Company, and William Penn Life Insurance Company of New York, defendants. Civil Action No. 13-1737, United States District Court of Connecticut.

 

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