Andy Rubin's Essential brand accused of trademark infringement
Andy Rubin is looking to upset the mobile phone industry with the new Essential Phone, announced last week, but he may have ruffled the wrong feathers. Smartphone accessory maker Spigen has issued a Cease and Desist order to Essential for infringing on a brand they own.
Spigen owns a trademark to use the “Essential” brand on their products. While the brand is currently only put on a few chargers, battery packs, and headphones, Spigen asserts that the Essential Phone’s name can cause confusion among consumers. As such, Spigen issued the C&D order late last week in an attempt to stop Rubin’s company from using the term. The letter also gives Essential until June 15th to respond before Spigen’s lawyers take further legal action.
While the claim seems far-fetched, Spigen did register the trademark “Essential” back in August 2016 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Interestingly, the Patent and Trademark Office refused Essential Phone’s initial applications for the trademark due to “a likelihood of confusion with Spigen’s Essential Marks,” according to the Cease and Desist letter from Spigen. It seems that Rubin and his company may have announced the Essential Phone despite not owning the trademark to the brand and that their application was refused because Spigen already owned the term.
Is this an early death for the Essential Phone? Not likely. Rubin and his company could probably argue that the Spigen’s brand applies to chargers and accessories, while their use of the term is for a smartphone device. They could also very easily change the brand to something like “Essential Smartphone.” Either way, Essential’s response to the letter sums up their view. A spokesperson said:
“Threat letters are commonplace in our sector. While it’s Spigen’s prerogative to make assertions, Essential believes they are without merit and will respond appropriately.”
It doesn’t look like Essential is too worried about the issue.