AT&T announced a loyalty program called “AT&T Thanks”. Citibank had some problems with that. Citibank thought the “AT&T Thanks” trademark would cause customer confusion with its loyalty program called “Thank You”. Citibank brought suit. Citibank argued that if anyone complains about AT&T’s rewards program, it would reflect badly on Citibank’s loyalty program. The court determined that the factors of customer confusion are either neutral or weigh against it. The court pointed out that customers seemed to be able to tell the difference among a wide variety of customer loyalty programs that use “Thank You” or some variation of it. So, they should be able to see the difference between a loyalty program for telecommunications services (AT&T) and one for financial services (Citibank). The judge denied Citibank’s motion for preliminary injunction.

WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS. Citibank, AT&T and a substantial number of other businesses want to thank their customers by offering loyalty incentives. But how many different ways can you say “Thank You”? Not many. Citibank learned it couldn’t "corner the market" on a frequently used phrased.

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