There have always been trademark issues and lawsuits in the mobile auto service business. I know this because I own several such businesses. We first noticed a competitor in the Mobile Auto Detailing Business, which had a name “Mobile Auto Services” another “Mobile Oil Change” and still another “Mobile Car Care”. Mobil Oil Company was marketing at the time their Gas Station Service Centers as “Mobil Auto-Services” “Mobil Car Care” and “Mobil Auto Care.”
Mobile Oil even filed one case against a company in Mobile Alabama, which used the name Mobile in its Auto Service Business. These cases occur more often than you think. Many times infringers do it on purpose to get easier name recognition, while at other times it is just coincidence, either way as the World gets closer together you can bet the problem will become more prevalent and more serious.
If you don’t think this is an issue, check out this case with Kellogg’s “Tony the Tiger” and Mobil Oil Company’s “Tiger Mart.” I guess you have to ask yourself “Whoooose Great”
Whether or not you agree with the verdicts in these trademark infringement cases, the company with the greatest dollars often is victorious. Speaking of Victorious…Victor’s Secrets, an adult store, has won a case where Victoria Secret, a 4 Billion Dollar a year marketer of lingerie, was not entitled to seek a cease and desist from the Proprietor of Victor’s Secret, whose real name was Bob or something like that.
In the case of McDonalds, they sue just about everyone with anything even closely resembling their name and they have so much case law now that they usually win everything, you might beat them but it would cost you $190,000 +, as was the most recent case where it went to a very high court and McDonalds won anyway.
We have seen previously in California where Oil Max was taken by a San Diego company and the former Oil Max mobile oil change company changed their name to Oil Maxx, with two X’s; unfortunate, but true. In a Trademark case at the Federal Level this would not even be possible, first use has rights, but even a federal trademark must be defended otherwise you lose certain rights to it’s use.
Now we see again Where Pitts Stop Mobile Oil Change is using a similar paint scheme to the Pitts Stop for this major C-Store Chain where some offices also have Oil Changing. If they are ever going to be in the same market one company will have to yield if both companies cannot agree, problem being that there is a good chance they will be direct competitors, in which case there could easily be a lawsuit. One company he fixed sites are based in Las Vegas and the other is based in Riverside CA that is fairly close and so far neither company is so big that it matters. In franchising such as in Mobil Service Stations, Brand Name means a lot. So to will it in the future as one or more of these companies might make it to a point where there is a confusion. In a down economy there is also a potential for one or more companies to go out of business thus abandoning any use of such a mark therefore making such an example of this type very irrelevant.
Before you go into an auto business or any business for that matter, check on the use of the names and pay attention, these issues are easy to fix before you start, but once you grow large the costs in loss of brand name recognition if you have to change the name could be in the millions, think about it. I know you will.