“Thank you” as US Patent Office trademarks being polite

thankyouA banking giant is squaring off against one of the US’s biggest phone companies  over the right to say “thank you” to its customers after some idiot in the US Patent Office awarded one of them a trademark on the phrase.

Citigroup has a trademark on “THANKYOU” and is currently using it to sue AT&T for using “Thanks”.

Apparently, Citigroup’s lawyers think that customers will be confused by AT&T’s use of the phrase and try to buy banking services from the phone company.  This is “unlawful conduct” amounting to wanton trademark infringement, Citigroup claims in its federal lawsuit.

For a while now Citigroup has been quietly buying trademarks based on the word THANKYOU. These include CITI THANKYOU, CITIBUSINESS THANKYOU. THANKYOU FROM CITI, and THANKYOU YOUR WAY. It has been running a variety of customer loyalty, reward, incentive, and redemption programs (collectively, the “THANKYOU Marks”).

It said that Citigroup’s THANKYOU Marks are widely recognized by the general consuming public as a designation of source for Citigroup’s high quality financial services and customer loyalty, reward, incentive, and redemption programmes.

So if people are saying “Thank you” they are really talking about Citigroup loyalty rewards because the outfit has spent so much marketing the words. Who would have thunk it?

According to the filing:

“AT&T co-branded credit cards, and Citigroup’s concerns regarding AT&T’s proposed trademarks, AT&T launched a customer loyalty program under the trademarks “thanks” and “AT&T thanks” on or about June 2, 2016. 4. AT&T’s use of the “thanks” and “AT&T thanks” trademarks is likely to cause consumer confusion and constitutes trademark infringement, false designation of origin, and unfair competition in violation of Citigroup’s rights. 5. Citigroup therefore seeks to enjoin AT&T’s infringing conduct and to recover damages based on the injury AT&T’s conduct has caused to Citigroup as well as AT&T’s unjust enrichment.”

All thanks to some idiot in the USPO, someone should send him or her a Thank you card and sit back and watch as the Citigroup’s lawyers feed.