Citigroup Inc., one of the world’s biggest banks, is suing telecommunications company AT&T over the words “thanks” and “AT&T thanks” in a new customer loyalty program.
The bank claims AT&T’s use of the words are infringing its trademark rights to the phrase “thankyou.” Citigroup says it has since 2004 used “thankyou” extensively in promoting its own customer loyalty and reward programs, including credit cards co-branded with AT&T.
The bank now believes the “AT&T thanks” program launched on June 2 will likely confuse consumers, and irreparably damaged its goodwill and reputation associated with the “thankyou” trademarks it uses for various banking services.
In its lawsuit Citigroup seeks to stop AT&T from using the phrases “thanks” and “AT&T thanks” in its programs and marketing. And it claims punitive damages.
AT&T’s response to the whole legal issue: “This may come as a surprise to Citigroup, but the law does not allow one company to own the word ‘thanks’. We’re going to continue to say thanks to our customers.”
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