Amazon’s Prime-branded trucks have drawn a legal challenge from a company with a familiar name.
Prime Inc., a nearly 50-year-old trucking company based in Missouri, filed a lawsuit against Amazon earlier this month, alleging that the growing network of trucks sporting the Amazon Prime logo infringe on its trademarks and cause confusion among customers. Prime Inc. is seeking an order forcing Amazon to take the “confusingly similar” Prime logos off its shipping fleet.
Amazon’s trademarks on Prime date back to the beginning of the program 14 years ago. At the beginning, those trademarks related to the fast-shipping benefits. But in recent years, as Amazon has taken greater control of the shipping process, the Prime logo has become synonymous not just with the program but with the fleet of trucks, delivery vans and airplanes that deliver items to customers.
That’s when Prime Inc., which has more than 12,000 trucks in service throughout the U.S. and internationally, started to take issue. According to the suit, Prime Inc. first reached out to Amazon in writing two years ago, asking the tech giant to take the Prime logo off its trucks. Prime Inc. alleges Amazon didn’t cooperate with its request, and it elevated its complaint first to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and now to federal court in Missouri.
In the filing, Prime Inc. said it “documented multiple instances of actual consumer confusion,” about the Prime logo. That has led customers to think Amazon and Prime Inc. are related, the lawsuit claims.
In addition to the removal of the Prime logo from Amazon trucks, Prime Inc. is also seeking damages “including the greater of three times Amazon’s profits or three times any damages sustained by Prime Inc. on account of Amazon’s acts of infringement.”
Amazon has yet to respond to the lawsuit, and it did not immediately respond to a request for comment from GeekWire.
Drivers could see a lot more of these Prime-branded trucks on the road in the near future thanks to Amazon’s push to reduce the two-day turnaround of the shipping program to a one-day offering. Amazon planned to spend $800 million on the effort alone in the second quarter.
Executives said in the most recent call with investors that the company would have an update on its fast-shipping push when it releases its financial update for the second quarter. Amazon is scheduled to report its earnings after the market closes Thursday.
Prime Inc. vs. Amazon by Nat Levy on Scribd
Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to refer to the suit as a trademark dispute.