In defending against a trademark infringement case brought by PODS Enterprises, Inc.—known for making moving containers that are dropped off at one location, filled and then transferred to a storage center or other location—U-Haul attempted to claim that “pods” had become a generic term for moving containers. After deliberations of more than three and a half days, the jury resoundingly disagreed—to the tune of almost $61 million.
“PODS” is an acronym for “Portable On Demand Storage.” U-Haul used the term “pod” to describe its “U-Box” product on its website. After a trial lasting more than two weeks in the Middle District of Florida, the jury found that not only did U-Haul’s use of “pods” cause a likelihood of confusion with PODS’ trademark, but it also found that the PODS mark was famous and had been diluted by U-Haul’s activities. Perhaps swayed by the allegation that U-Haul only began using the term “pods” after it had expressed an interest in acquiring the PODS company, the jury awarded PODS $45 million in actual damages and determined that $15.7 million of U-Haul’s profits were attributable to its use of the term “pods.” Though the verdict is a big one, it is considerably less than the $170 million in damages PODS sought.
At the time of the writing of this article, attorneys for PODS stated that they will now seek an injunction against U-Haul to stop using the terms “pod” and “pods.”
This case is PODS Enterprises Inc. v. U-Haul International Inc., case number 8:12-cv-014779 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.