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American Airlines and Expedia Agree to Settle Trademark Dispute

Written by Sena Tokel- a student at Southampton Solent University on 09 January 2019

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American Airlines have agreed to settle a trademark and unfair competition lawsuit with travel agency giant Expedia.

The dispute which was filed by American Airlines in October 2018, was over the online travel agency’s ‘Add-On Advantage’ discount hotel program. The airline alleged that Expedia’s Add-On Advantage logo infringed their own ‘AAdvantage’ loyalty program’s logo and marks and with this, claimed Expedia had breached their agreements with the airline. The Airline sued the online travel agent on five counts: breach of the companies’ written agreements, trademark infringement, unfair competition and trademark dilution. However in November last year, Expedia denied any claims of infringement or contract violations in response to the lawsuit.

In 2014, the two companies signed agreements where Expedia was licensed to sell fares on behalf of the airline and promote their AAdvantage program. The airline claimed that under this agreement, Expedia undertook not to “use any intellectual property that is confusingly similar to the American marks, including the AAdvantage marks”,

Despite this, in June 2018 the travel agency went on to file the registration of two trademarks with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for its ‘Add-On Advantage’ program, covered by classes 39 and 43.

In response the airline claimed that this was likely to cause confusion amongst consumers over “the source, sponsorship, or affiliation” of Expedia’s ‘Add-On Advantage’ programme. The Airline registered the ‘AAdvantage’ mark with the USPTO in 1983 and have stated in their complaint: “These marks are assets of incalculable value as symbols of American, its quality goods and services, and its goodwill,”.

Following the two parties filing a request, the district court ordered that the case be dismissed on December 17 . The terms of the settlement have not yet been publicized however according to the USPTO, both of Expedia’s trademark applications for ‘Add-On Advantage’ were withdrawn on December 21st.

Although it is unclear how they settled the matter, both American Airlines and Expedia have seemed to resolve their issues over the dispute.

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