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Unfair competition? Medical co., retailer spar in federal court

A blue square interlocked with a green square. A green square interlocked with a purple square, which from a central position also links to a blue square.

Are those images/icons similar? And if so, is that important?

As to the first point, we leave readers of our Southern California business and commercial law blog at Jerry L. Freedman, A Professional Corporation, to their own reasoned conclusions. A link discussing an ongoing litigation battle focused upon unfair competition and trademark infringement shows both of those images.

One belongs to the national health insurer and medical provider HealthPartners, the other to the colossal global retailer Wal-Mart, with that company using the mark exclusively in links to Sam's Club, its chain warehouse.

Sam's has employed its mark for years. HealthPartners developed its logo more recently.

The latter company is clearly worried about infringement claims from Wal-Mart, with its concerns driving HealthPartners principals to file a lawsuit in federal court earlier this month. The filing seeks a court ruling that the health company's logo does not constitute an infringement of Wal-Mart's mark.

As noted in a recent article chronicling the dispute, Wal-Mart has not yet formally responded to the suit. Through a spokesperson, though, it alleges that the marks are so similar as to be confusing to members of the public.

And that works an infringement of the company's intellectual property, that person insists.

"Sam's Club intends to take the necessary action to protect and defend its trademark," he recently stated.

The medical and retail industries are distinctly dissimilar, of course, and some people might reasonably conclude that dueling logos should never be an issue.

They are, though, with the matter clearly evidencing how serious companies are about protecting their so-called "brands."

Issues surrounding unfair competition are often central considerations in business litigation. A proven business lawyer who routinely deals with business torts, contract disputes and related matters can answer questions and provide diligent representation in any commercial litigation matter.

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