The nine Invesco PowerShares exchange-traded funds that were at the center of a legal dispute with SPDR, the trademark holder of tickers used by a popular family of State Street Global Advisor sector ETFs, began trading yesterday with new trading symbols, putting to rest the entire affair.
The PowerShares offering, launched in April 2010, divides the S&P 600 SmallCap Index into the same nine sectors. The tickers on the two sets of ETFs had been identical, save for an "S" PowerShares added on to the end of each of its funds. As of mid-March the nine funds had attracted $530 million in assets, including $180 in 2011, according to PowerShares.
SPDR sued PowerShares in July 2010, characterizing the similarity as a "deliberate and unconscionable act on the part of PowerShares to confuse both institutional and retail investors." SSgA, the sponsor of the Select Sector SPDR ETFs, wasn't involved in the dispute. Financial terms of the settlement, if any, weren't disclosed.
"Our intent, when we selected the original tickers was not to confuse, but simply to make it easier for S&P Sector investors to identify the tickers of the new Small Cap S&P Sector ETFs," Ben Fulton, Invesco PowerShares' managing director of global ETFs, said in a press release issued on Feb. 16.
For those in the exchange-traded fund industry who were hoping for a legal wrangle exploring nuances of trademark laws and marketing challenges in an increasingly competitive ETF industry, the settlement came as something of a disappointment. IndexUniverse.com Director of Research Dave Nadig was among those who are disappointed, as his blog last summer titled "Welcome To ETF 'Fight Night'" makes clear.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Houston against PowerShares Exchange-Traded Fund Trust II, Invesco PowerShares Capital Management, LLC, and Invesco Distributors, Inc., according to a press release last summer from Select Sector SPDRs. It invoked Section 43 of the Federal Trademark Act as well as the common law of the state of Texas.
The PowerShares SmallCap Sector ETFs began trading under the new tickers on March 23. The new tickers are as follows:
Utilities & Telecom Services
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