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Trademark infringement suit focused on single letter of alphabet

If you had only gotten your own "P."

Both that lament and admonition are implicit in what is spotlighted in a recent lawsuit featuring two well-known American companies.

One of those entities -- the plaintiff -- is PayPal, a big-time player in the Internet payment industry, with the company offering services that supplant the use of cash and checks and expedite online money transfers.

The defendant, Pandora, is a music-streaming service that offers an online app providing personalized musical selections for consumers.

Seemingly, there is little in common between the two companies.

Except for the lawsuit that PayPal recently filed, in which it alleges that Pandora has flagrantly misappropriated its distinctive trademark symbol in a manner that is materially confusing consumers as to product source.

For that alleged wrongdoing (the above link portal offers a side-by-side look at the two companies' marks), PayPal is insisting that Pandora immediately cease from using its current symbol and pay damages (in an amount not yet specified in public media accounts).

As for the motivation underlying infringement, PayPal argues this: Pandora is a flatly failing company that is seeking to motivate more online users to click on its app on various mobile devices. Its strategy to promote that aim is to basically trick those consumers through use of a mark that looks closely similar to PayPal's better-known symbol.

And the ruse is working, states PayPal. As noted in one media report on the litigation, the company "points out more than 20 social media posts about [consumers'] confusion as exhibits in its suit."

Understandably, "likelihood of confusion" in consumers' minds is the guiding standard to assess trademark infringement claims.

We'll let readers know how the litigation ultimately plays out.

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