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AA suing DL over use of the word "flagship"

AA suing DL over use of the word "flagship"

Old Dec 21, 2019, 11:50 am
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AA suing DL over use of the word "flagship"

There are some law blogs/news sites that have this too but require a login right now, so OMAAT: https://onemileatatime.com/american-...elta-flagship/

American claims that Delta started using the term “flagship” in 2016, first as a modifier. For example:

* Delta has referred to their new business class product as their “flagship Delta One Suite”
* Delta has referred to their A350 as the “flagship Airbus A350”
* Delta has referred to their new SkyClub as the “flagship Delta SkyClub at ATL”

Note that this isn’t done consistently, but rather primarily in press releases, etc. For example, the page describing Delta’s business class doesn’t use the word “flagship” once.
and quoting from the actual complaint:

“Despite knowing that American owns the exclusive right to use the Flagship marks, Delta has begun to use the terms ‘flagship,’ ‘Flagship,’ and ‘FLAGSHIP’ to promote its own airport lounges and premium services and interiors.

This is no accident. American believes Delta is looking to capture additional market share by targeting its greatest competitor, American, and eroding the brand, goodwill, and value that American has built over the past eighty years through the Flagship marks.”


This seems silly and pretty obvious to fail over a generic lowercase-f use of "flagship" vs. incorporating it into a logo/brand/etc. but IANAL.

I also wonder if maybe it's one of those things where everyone knows it's silly but if they don't "fight" this then it will erode their claim to damages if a legitimate case of infringement arises.
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 12:40 pm
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Meanwhile, AA itself has been eroding its brand, goodwill, and value.......
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 12:53 pm
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I'm glad AA is single-mindedly investing their resources towards improving their products. /s
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 1:10 pm
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Considering that flagship is an actual word in the dictionary and they aren't using it as a brand, I see no point in this lawsuit.
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 1:16 pm
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Originally Posted by SJC ORD LDR
Considering that flagship is an actual word in the dictionary and they aren't using it as a brand, I see no point in this lawsuit.
Are you a lawyer?
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 1:50 pm
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Originally Posted by SJC ORD LDR
Considering that flagship is an actual word in the dictionary and they aren't using it as a brand, I see no point in this lawsuit.
I see a point in the lawsuit. When looking up fares, there is a red flag that reads "FLAGSHIP" in all caps as well as another flag of another color that says "NONSTOP". This is wrong and should be stopped.

The press releases where Delta refers to their "flagship A350" is ok as long as they don't claim they also fly the "flagship 737-900ER".

Delta should stop use of the red flag that reads "FLAGSHIP" and also give AA 200,000 Skypeso miles. That should be the immediate settlement without having Delta even submit a reply to the court.
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 1:57 pm
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Originally Posted by apodo77
Are you a lawyer?
I am, and this case is not particularly strong on the merits and raises First Amendment concerns. The booking.com case before the Supreme Court this term raises a far less frivolous claim and is itself a close call. If booking.com can't win arguing that it's trademark prevents a site called hotelbooking.com, it would seem to be impossible for the mere use of an adjective by Delta to be a trademark violation. That said, the case was assigned to a judge that is well-known for not abiding by supreme Court precedent so who knows....
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 1:59 pm
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We all know that AA would never copy anything of Delta's
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 1:59 pm
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Flagship is a registered trademark for AA's long-haul international business lounges. I think there are also other uses of Flagship that AA has registered. IANAL, nor do I play one on TV, but I believe trademarks have to be protected or you risk losing the trademark.
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 2:01 pm
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Originally Posted by Zorak
There are some law blogs/news sites that have this too but require a login right now, so OMAAT: https://onemileatatime.com/american-...elta-flagship/



and quoting from the actual complaint:





This seems silly and pretty obvious to fail over a generic lowercase-f use of "flagship" vs. incorporating it into a logo/brand/etc. but IANAL.

I also wonder if maybe it's one of those things where everyone knows it's silly but if they don't "fight" this then it will erode their claim to damages if a legitimate case of infringement arises.
I don't really know what I'm looking at but I put American Airlines into a simple search on the Trademark Database and flagship is a registered AA trademark. When the results for American Airlines as owner came up I did a find on the page and saw flagship and I clicked on it and they use it for a lot of different things.

The current registration number is 5854303. The application that led to this number was filed in February 2018 and the registration came through in September of 2019. This must be a successor registration or something because the information lists various classes of use I guess it is. Some of these show a first use in 1998 and one shows a first use in 1936.

I think they're overreaching like crazy. AA is using it as a brand, and deviating a bit from common usage. For example Flagship Lounges, applied to ALL their lounges, as I understand it, or at any rate all the lounges in some category they define, and they are using this term to distinguish these products from OTHER airlines' products.

As I read the OMAAT article, Delta is using flagship very much in its ordinary sense - the premier whatever-it-is in the Delta family. I understand that they are calling one of the lounges in ATL something like "OUR flagship lounge" and the A350 "OUR flagship aircraft" and Delta One Suites "OUR flagship business class product" - identifying these things as the best DELTA things. It seems like AA is trying to paste this word on their things and trying to monopolize the ordinary sense of the word. They can use words in trademarks all they like but using a word in a trademark doesn't allow the holder to monopolize the ordinary sense of the word.

Also, the confusion issue. If I were writing the answer, it would be hard for me to resist adding a section saying something like "an ordinary customer contemplating a purchase and seeing Delta's reference to 'our flagship Delta One suite' would not be confused by the use of the word in its ordinary sense." The word "flagship" is generally used to refer to the most important, most prominent, or best of something, and no one taking the word in that sense would be led to assume that it was being used to refer to any American Airlines product."

Last edited by Carl Johnson; Dec 21, 2019 at 4:53 pm
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 2:11 pm
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(sarcasm) TBH I would love Delta to get sued for calling their pathetic 8 inch plastic door pods on the A350 a "Suite". Pathetic "suite" compared to actual suites by SQ, EK, EY,, Sadly, I doubt it will happen.
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 2:20 pm
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If people are choosing to fly DL over AA it isn't because the word 'flagship' happens to appear near the A350 product. It's because AA is a disaster of an airline being run by some of the worst leadership the industry has ever seen.

Rather than diving into a pointless lawsuit, AA would be far better served investing that money back into the terrible product it currently offers its few remaining customers.
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 2:47 pm
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I feel like airlines use flagship all the time to refer to new premium products.
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 3:57 pm
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I recall the word flagship being used in the airline industry decades ago, in the ordinary sense of the word (but maybe someone should remind AA and DL that the Titanic was said to be the flagship of its line and its shipbuilder). I think TWA called JFK-CDG and vv its flagship route/service until the TWA #800 crash just after takeoff on Long Island.
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 4:11 pm
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Deltas use of the term is actual trademark infringement in a classic sense. The use of the term directly infringes on Americans mark and creates confusion in thr marketplace with similar if not identical customers. I think AA will prevail in this lawsuit and frankly DL should know better. The only way they will get off is by either claiming the term flagship is non distinctive and therefore not a real trademark, something very hard to do in the USA after registration, or they will have to prove prior use.
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