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Citigroup (C) Ends Legal Battle Over 'ThankYou' Trademark

Citigroup Inc.C and AT&T, Inc. T have put an end to the legal tussle over a trademark infringement.

Per a filing on Monday with a Manhattan federal court, the companies have dropped allegations against each other with prejudice, which means that the charges cannot be brought again.

Citigroup had alleged that AT&T's use of the trademarks 'thanks' and 'AT&T thanks' infringes upon the former's trademarks including 'ThankYou' and 'Citi ThankYou'. According to the lawsuit filed in June, AT&T announced its new appreciation program 'AT&T thanks' for its customers on Jun 2, despite being aware of Citigroup's use of related trademarks. The banking giant has been using 'ThankYou' trademark since 2004 in a customer loyalty program, with approximately 15 million members in the country.

The bank claimed, "For many years, Citigroup has used trademarks consisting of and/or containing the term THANKYOU - including THANKYOU, CITI THANKYOU, CITIBUSINESS THANKYOU, THANKYOU FROM CITI, and THANKYOU YOUR WAY - in connection with a variety of customer loyalty, reward, incentive and redemption programs (collectively, the "THANKYOU Marks")."

Citigroup also stated that it has a co-branded credit card with AT&T - the AT&T Universal Card - that gives 'ThankYou' reward points to its users based on the amount spent. Moreover, AT&T's trademark designs have similar fonts and word placements. So, AT&T's new program is bound to confuse costumers. Hence, Citigroup wanted the court order to stop AT&T from using the terms. Apart from this order, Citigroup also sought unspecified damages.

AT&T countered Citigroup's allegations. The company spokesperson Fletcher Cook had stated in an email, "This may come as a surprise to Citigroup, but the law does not allow one company to own the word 'thanks.' We're going to continue to say thanks to our customers."

Notably, this case was dismissed after a U.S. Federal judge earlier this month rejected Citigroup's request to block AT&T from using "AT&T thanks" for its customer loyalty program. Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan mentioned that though both the companies use similar words that express a message of gratitude, Citigroup has failed to show that customers would be confused or the bank would suffer irreparable harm if AT&T kept using the phrase "AT&T thanks."

The termination of this suit certainly helps in maintaining the business relationship between the two companies. While Citigroup spokeswoman Jennifer Bombardier said in a statement, "We have decided not to pursue this matter any further and look forward to continuing to work with AT&T," AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook stated, "We consider the matter closed."

Currently, both Citigroup and AT&T carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A couple of better-ranked finance stocks include Enterprise Financial Services Corp. EFSC and Credit Acceptance Corp. CACC , each sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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