Uber Loses Trademark Case Against Taxi Company

Taxis at the airport

The Icelandic Patent Office has rejected the claims of Uber, the international peer-to-peer transportation company, that the Icelandic taxi company’s registration of the trademark Suber Taxi is a copyright infringement, RÚV reports.

In March of last year, Hreyfill, an Icelandic taxi company, applied for a trademark on the brand Suber Taxi, which is to be a taxi service that allows customers to book rides on an app. Hreyfill’s CEO noted in an interview at the time that the company was preparing itself for changes on the transportation market in the coming years.

Spokespeople for Uber said that these statements indicated that Hreyfill’s owners were aware of the Uber brand and the name of its company.

In its rejection of Uber’s claim, the Patent Office said that Uber had not sufficiently proven that Hreyfill had intentionally registered for the Suber Taxi trademark with the explicit intention of preventing Uber from entering the Icelandic market and/or availing itself of the goodwill of Uber’s customers. When considering the complaint, the Patent Office reviewed Icelandic media coverage related to Uber and stated that there was not enough indication that the Uber brand is widely thought of in connection to taxi services in Iceland.

Uber representatives had also taken excerpts out of two MPs speeches about the taxi industry and allowing Uber to come to Iceland as evidence of the brand’s existing prominence in Iceland. The Patent Office said, however, that the fact that Uber has been discussed in Icelandic parliament does not indicate that the brand is well-known throughout the country.

Hreyfill’s lawyers requested that in its response, the Patent Office should clearly note that based on current taxi laws in Iceland, it is not actually possible for Uber to operate in the country. The Patent Office declined to make any such statement.

In its response to the ruling, Uber said that the company thought it obvious that the meaning of “Uber” and “Suber” are essentially the same. The word “uber” means “over” or “super” in German, and “Suber,” they said, is clearly a play on the English word “Super.”