Groupon had another really good day in court yesterday. A federal district judge in California ruled for Groupon in a pending trademark suit, holding that Groupion, LLC (a customer software development company) and Groupon (the on-line couponing company) are not confusingly similar. Groupion had moved for summary judgment and an injunction to prevent Groupon from using its name. “Despite the similarity in the spelling of the two words, the court finds that the marks, when viewed in their entirety and as they appear in the marketplace, are dissimilar,” wrote Judge Jeffrey S. White.
While both parties began using their respective names in late 2008, according to Plaintiff Groupion, there was no problem until Groupon began developing and marketing its own customer relations management software in 2009 and 2010 in order to do more business with merchants. Plaintiff Groupion complained that consumers were confused by the use of the names and that even Google’s search engine confuses the two, asking the user if he or she meant to search on “Groupon,” when the plaintiff’s mark is entered.
However, the plaintiff could not carry the day and provide proof strong enough to convince Judge White that there was a likelihood of confusion with the consumers at issue. This seems reasonable to me, given that the consumers for product development software are quite different from the ones that are looking for a good deal on a haircut and highlights at their local salon. I wonder if Groupon is able to get a deal on all its legal fees, because some lawyers have successfully used it (but that is a topic for another day).