March 27, 2009

TSA accused of stealing ‘SimpliFLY’

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration violated federal law by using a SimpliFLY slogan embraced by a Utah airport, a lawsuit alleges.

USA Today said Friday that a lawsuit filed by the Salt Lake City International Airport claims TSA officials allegedly committed trademark infringement through a 2007 campaign that encouraged passengers to neatly pack their carry-on luggage.

Airport officials allege the SimpliFLY slogan used in the TSA campaign has been in use at the Salt Lake City site since 2003. The slogan represents the airport's toll-free call service for questions from travelers.

But Mark Janis, an intellectual-property law professor at the University of Iowa, said the lawsuit filed this week in a federal court in Utah is unique in regards to trademark suits.

Janis told USA Today most trademark infringement cases involve a defendant who allegedly violates a trademark while attempting to sell something.

The TSA, Janis said, isn't trying to promote a service or product.