PODS, the portable moving and storage company, was recently awarded a $62 million judgment against U-Haul for trademark infringement. Though PODS sought approximately $170 million dollars, the jury’s $62 million award is significant. Of that amount, $46 million was attributed to damages and $16 million was attributed to the profit U-Haul earned while using the infringed term.
What atrocious act warranted this significant award? U-Haul used the word “pod” in its advertising.
PODS has a registration on the term “pod,” and it was able to enforce its intellectual property rights against U-Haul for misappropriating the term. Perhaps more importantly, ownership rights to the word when used in certain contexts also allowed PODS to take a step against the trademarked term becoming generic, like aspirin or cellophane.
Any business that holds a registration trademark needs to remember that enforcement is crucial to maintaining that registration. Likewise, no matter how innocuous your advertising may seem, infringing upon someone else’s registration can be very expensive.