Courtesy of Ivan Sanchez, a friend and fellow lawyer, we seem to have a new gas station in Puerto Rico: Puma. Also with the new gas station, is the logo of a…well you guessed it… puma. Look familiar?
Here you have the Puma you probably now of. Puma, officially called Puma AG Rudolf Dassler Sport, is world-famous for its shoes, clothing and other sports accessories. It’s been in business since 1924 and it holds countless trademark registrations all over the world.
In Puerto Rico, it has an official store and has wide ranging publicity in television and magazines.
Now, on the flip side, we have the new player. Puma Gas. I have no idea of when this company began, only that the logo and branding is recent. I’ve seen that gas station before, and it was another brand not too long ago.
Originally, I thought there was a copyright problem. On closer look, I don’t think there is one. The pumas are looking in different direction and their jump is different. Given that the art would fall under the ideas-merger doctrine, Puma AG could not claim copyright of the image of a puma except for its exact reproduction. However, trademark wise, the plot thickens.
Could you argue confusion? The logos are similar but the services are entirely unrelated.
Could you argue dilution? Is Puma AG a famous mark? Probably. Does this gas station dilute the power of its brand?
What do you think? Drop in your opinion on the comments thread.
*6/2/11 @ 6:50pm Update: Rob just clued me into this, and a little research confirms, Puma Gas is also known as Puma Energy. A Swiss energy company with locations across 20 countries world wide. Puma Energy also purchased the CAPECO complex in Puerto Rico this year. Thus, it’s safe to conclude that: (1) Puma AG knows about Puma Energy; (2) Puma Energy knows about Puma AG; (3) Neither party seems to be offended trademark wise.