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Quotient lawsuit

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Quotient, Inc. is a company that provides information technology and management consulting services to federal government agencies and commercial clients in the Washington, DC area. Other than the clipping that its employees may do in their own time, the company has nothing to do with coupons.

So imagine its surprise, when a coupon company changed its name earlier this year – to Quotient Technology.

Coupons.com adopted the new corporate moniker in October, “to better reflect the breadth and sophistication of the company’s business offerings” beyond just coupons, the company explained at the time. Quotient Technology filed a U.S. trademark application for its new name a few weeks later.

But the original Quotient wasn’t too pleased.

A few weeks ago, the company sent a cease-and-desist letter to Quotient Technology, demanding that the company stop using the new name, withdraw its trademark application and give up its quotient.com website.

Quotient Technology refused – and then turned the tables by suing its accuser.

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In a pre-emptive strike filed in federal court last week, the former Coupons.com asked for a judgment dismissing Quotient’s complaint and allowing Quotient Technology to continue using its new name.

Despite their similar names, “there is no likelihood of confusion” between the two companies, Quotient Technology argued. The original Quotient “does not market or sell any goods or services to any consumer packaged goods companies,” and its business functions “have no relationship with the goods and services offered by Quotient Technologies.”

Representatives for Quotient, Inc. did not respond to a request for comment on the case.

It’s not impossible or unprecedented for two different companies or brands to use the same or similar names – think Delta Air Lines and Delta Faucet, or Dove chocolate and Dove soap. That’s generally permissible, as long as the companies are in different lines of business and there’s no possibility of consumer confusion. You’re not going to call Delta Faucet to book a flight, after all, or bite into a bar of Dove soap expecting a tasty treat.

That’s how Kraft’s Cracker Barrel cheese and the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain managed to peacefully coexist for decades. But that changed in 2013, when the restaurant launched its own line of grocery products. That crossed the line, Kraft argued in a lawsuit, creating the possibility of consumer confusion in the grocery aisles that didn’t exist when the defendant stuck to running restaurants. The restaurant chain ended up rebranding its grocery products as “CB Old Country Store,” to avoid using the Cracker Barrel name.

And for four years, Brand Coupon Network was locked in a legal battle with Catalina Marketing over that company’s Coupon Network printable coupon site. Both companies operated in the same sphere, Brand Coupon Network argued, creating the possibility of confusion. By the time the parties agreed to settle the dispute earlier this year, Brand Coupon Network had gone of business and Catalina had shut down its Coupon Network site, so the possibility of customer confusion had become something of a moot point.

It will be up to a federal court to decide whether Quotient and Quotient Technology, as two tech companies, operate in the same realm – or if the fact that one deals in government contracts, and the other in coupons and promotions, makes them different enough that they can coexist with similar names.

In the meantime, just don’t tell the maker of “Quotient” brand office chairs, the owner of the “Quotient” ADHD diagnostic system or the creator of the “Quotient” font about Coupons.com’s name change. There are only so many lawsuits the newly-rebranded company can handle at once.

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