American Airlines Takes Delta To Court Over Trademark Issue

American Airlines has entered into a legal battle with Delta Air Lines. The carrier has sued its competitor over infringement over trademarks including the word “Flagship”.

American and Delta Aircraft
American claims that Delta is infringing on its trademarks. Photo: Getty

Flag carriers

The World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR) reports that American filed a lawsuit with Delta on Friday, December 20th. This was done at the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Within the suit, the airline accused its rival of using the terms “flagship”, “Flagship” and “FLAGSHIP” out of turn. It claims that Delta used these phrases to market its airport lounges and services.

It would seem that the words are general enough to promote a business across the United States. However, American has trademarked the term and similar phrases, using them to promote its products since the 1930s. To date, the company’s premium offerings, such as its first and business class have been promoted with the term.

American Airlines Flagship Poster
An American Airlines promotional poster from the 1950s. Photo: Getty

Similar promotions

The filing states that Delta is using the phrase to promote products that are too similar to the ones that American trademarked it for. Moreover, AA claims that in the last few years, Delta has started to sell flight tickets by referring to the disputed term when describing premium interiors on its services.

“This confusion is only amplified because Delta is using these terms to promote its own premium air travel services—which just so happen to be the very same services in which American has used its Flagship marks for decades. This is no coincidence,” the suit reads, as reported by WIPR.

Additionally, American feels that Delta’s marketing team has been tactically trying to get loyalists of the airline to switch allegiance.

“Delta considers American Airlines to be one of its biggest competitors—if not its biggest competitor. Some of Delta’s chief marketing strategies include persuading consumers to choose Delta over American Airlines, and attempting to persuade loyal American customers to switch their loyalty to Delta,” American said, as per the report.

American Airlines Interior
Today, American uses “Flagship” to describe its premium services. Photo: American

What does American want?

Altogether, AA wants a conclusion of wilful trademark infringement, followed by a permanent injunction. It also wants damages to be covered.

Simple Flying contacted American for comment on this week’s events. The firm replied by stating that it has been including Flagship Lounges in its premium offerings since 1998.

Furthermore, it received trademark protection for various variations involving the word “flagship” since 1999. Therefore, it took legal action to protect its decades-long investment in its brand. In addition, it wants to prevent customers from being confused when Delta uses their trademark to sell its products.

American and Delta Planes
American is seeking damages from Delta’s actions. Photo: Getty

Well, even though the US doesn’t have an actual flag carrier, it seems that it does at least have a flagship one.

Simple Flying also reached out to Delta for comment on the lawsuit but did not hear back before publication. We will update the article with any further comments.

What are your thoughts on this legal case between the two US-based airlines? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.