Business

Uber sued by Uber for tarnishing the good name of Uber

Can't we all just be Uber-alles?

By Shaun Nichols in San Francisco

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A Florida cloud computing provider named Uber Operations is suing its dial-a-ride namesake for trademark infringement.

In a suit filed Tuesday to the Northern Florida US District court, the owners of Uber Operations claim their name's similarity to Uber Technologies Inc has caused them to receive thousands of unwanted calls, faxes, emails, and even legal summons intended for the (in)famous car-hailing service based in San Francisco.

Located in Tallahassee, Florida, Uber Operations provides cloud and hosted IT services for regional health care providers and small businesses in Florida and other Southeastern US states. The two companies applied for and were both granted trademarks in 2011-2012 to use the Uber name in their respective businesses (Uber Operations for IT services and Uber Technologies for ride-sharing).

Unfortunately, Uber Operations says, the growing popularity of the Uber ride service has left the public confused about the two companies and it's now impacting its IT business.

"Even state governments with whom Uber Operations does business have experienced confusion with Uber Tech. The Attorney General's office has sent Uber Operations legal notices, writs and other court documents, employment verification requests, and other important documents and records intended for Uber Tech," the filing [PDF] reads.

"Due to the nature of these documents (which include court orders and documents with deadlines and potential fines or other penalties for failing to respond), Uber Operations has not been able to ignore them, and has had to repeatedly advise attorneys and government agents that Uber Operations is not Uber Tech."

Not the Uber you're looking for

If that wasn't bad enough, Uber Operations says the bad publicity Uber Tech has gotten for itself has led the cloud Uber to be on the receiving end of bad reviews and death threats from disgruntled Uber car service passengers.

"As a result of this saturation, the public has come to assume that Uber Operations' services are really Uber Tech's or that Uber Operations has become somehow connected to Uber Tech, and Uber Operations has thus lost the value of its trademark, ie, its corporate identity, and control over its goodwill and reputation," the complaint reads.

"Indeed, the constant business interruption, and fear of violence, have caused Uber Operations to remove information from its website, change its phone system to go straight to voicemail (so that only calls directed to Uber Operations are returned), and remove signage and other indication of the location of Uber Operations from its offices to prevent Uber Tech drivers, prospective drivers, and customers from showing up at Uber Operations' offices."

The complaint claims that the ride-sharing Uber's use of the names "Uber" and "Uber Xchange" overstep Uber Tech's trademark agreement and infringe on the one Uber Operations holds. Now, they want damages to help cover the costs associated with being the "other" Uber.

They claim one count each of federal statutory trademark infringement, common law trademark infringement, and common law unfair competition. They also ask that Uber Technologies' trademark be invalidated.

Uber Tech declined to comment on the complaint. ®

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