Linkedin in trademark dispute over name of new startup

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

Social networking has gone from a niche universe of college students to something that is used by a wide spectrum of people. Everyone from grandma to business professionals use social networks to share personal and professional information. The success of this industry is now leading to such saturation that trademark disputes are arising as new channels sometimes have a striking resemblance to established ones.

A new network aimed at professional networking for financial professionals recently submitted a trademark application. LinkedFA is a Miami based company started in 2009 and now has about 10,000 users. LinkedIn, the popular professional networking site filed an opposition challenging LinkedFA’s trademark application arguing that over the new company’s use of the word ‘Linked.’

A representative for Linkedin explained their position. They believe that the name of the new company poses a significant threat of confusion to consumers. That is, that they might think that LinkedFA is somehow associated or affiliated with Linkedin, which it is not. They believe that opposing the trademark application is an appropriate and reasonable step to protect their brand.

LinkedFA counters that it is substantially distinct from Linkedin. Specifically because of the highly regulated nature of the financial industry, LinkedFA says that it provides a networking platform while reducing the risk that they would violate their compliance requirements. LinkedFA also contends that Linkedin has attempted, unsuccessfully, to block access to its application programming interface (API).

As these types of properties become more valuable and more companies attempt to get their foot in the door, it is not unlikely that disputes like one will become more common.

Source: Advisor One. “LinkedFA Fights LinkedIn in Trademark Dispute,” Joyce Hanson, Sept. 6, 2011