Political Ad Ruled Non-Infringing

The Trademark & Copyright Law Blog has a post today about the court’s decision last week denying a temporary restraining order in Choose Energy, Inc. v. American Petroleum Institute (API).  The plaintiff Choose Energy sued API in the Northern District of California for trademark infringement over API’s election season adoption of the phrase CHOOSE ENERGY for a political advertising campaign.  In ruling against Choose Energy’s request, the court reasoned that the political services offered by API under the CHOOSE ENERGY mark are “wholly and completely distinct from the commercial services offered by Choose Energy,” leaving the court with a single question: “can API’s political activities trigger liability under the statute where API is not in competition with Choose Energy?”  Concluding that there was “no evidence in the record that Choose Energy and API compete in any way that could bring the claim within the purview of the Lanham Act,” the court ruled that the plaintiff failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits, and denied the temporary restraining order.  Before the case was filed, API indicated to Choose Energy that the ad campaign was only slated to last until today’s election.  This may render the case moot after today, particularly since it may be difficult for the plaintiff Choose Energy to prove infringement in light of the court’s view that API and Choose Energy are not in competition.  Read the full article here, and the court’s opinion here.