Thanks to Judge, AT&T Can Say ‘Thanks’ for Now

By | August 15, 2016

The right to say “thanks” to customers may not be exclusive to Citigroup Inc.

A Manhattan federal judge on Thursday refused the bank’s request for an order barring AT&T Inc. from using a commonly uttered expression of gratitude for its customer loyalty program.

Citigroup was seeking to halt the use of the phrase “AT&T Thanks” on the grounds that it was too similar to the “THANKYOU” the bank has been using with its customers since 2004, including on 7 million ThankYou-branded credit cards it has issued.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest said she isn’t convinced that Citigroup’s phrase is distinctive enough to warrant trademark protection.

The judge agreed with AT&T that “there are and have been dozens upon dozens of goods, services, and entities that made use of variations on the words ‘thanks’ and ‘thank you.'”

The lawsuit will continue, but AT&T claimed victory in the first round.

“As we said when this complaint was filed, the law does not allow one company to own the word ‘thanks’ and we will continuing showing thanks to our loyal customers,” the phone carrier said in a statement.

Citigroup had no immediate comment on the ruling.

The case is Citigroup Inc. v. AT&T Inc., 16-cv-4333, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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Latest Comments

  • August 15, 2016 at 2:40 pm
    Nancy says:
    Wow, talk about majoring in the minors. Maybe Citibank will want to stop every one else from greeting customers with Good Morning or Good Afternoon!
  • August 15, 2016 at 2:27 pm
    Tom Mercer says:
    With the widespread adoption of "Happy Holidays", Merry Christmas is falling into disuse. I'm sure it can be trademarked as it's becoming more and more distinctive every year... read more
  • August 15, 2016 at 1:46 pm
    MadDog says:
    Wow!! And I say Thank You or Thanks at the end of almost every email. Glad Citibank didn't get their way. What will they go after next - Merry Christmas??

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