The website GoNorthwest.com has been operating for the past ten years, providing travel information for the Pacific Northwestern part of the United States.
Northwest Airlines, which has recently been acquired by Delta Airlines feel they own the rights to the name. This started when site owner Jack High trademarked his name last year after someone stole his site’s contents and created an illegal copy under a similar name. High defends his actions stating he has no issue with any other company using the word, “northwest,” but is just concerned about protecting his own site.
Andrea James with the Seattle PI points out that over 10,500 companies have “northwest” as part of their name, just in Washington state. There are also 366 trademarks that exist for “NW” and “Northwest” in the United States.
Delta Airlines commented that “Northwest is a world-famous mark that is used by one of the oldest airlines in the world and that has been built with billions of dollars of investments over eight decades.” The airline continued, stating they were concerned about the future of the site causing additional confusion of the brands. To me, this seems like a big company going a few steps too far. Here are some of my thoughts:
#1 The Northwest Airlines brand is going away. Delta is in the process of changing all their naming over to Delta. There won’t be any confusion in the future since the name will be gone soon. Why spend money on a dying brand?
#2 There is no record of people getting the two names confused. Even searching for “Go Northwest” on Google, Northwest Airlines doesn’t show up.
#3 The look and feel of the two websites and what the companies offer GREATLY differ and it would be very hard for someone to mistake them.
#4 Should Delta go after all the companies that use the word “delta”? If one goes to GoDelta.com, it forwards you to a Delta marketing group (wow that font looks very similar). Should they be worried? How about Southwest Airlines or Alaska Airlines? When using a geographic location to name your business, you should expect there are going to be people that use part of your name in travel-related businesses.
#5 I don’t see how this is going to look good for Northwest Airlines and Delta Airlines. They should just back off now, it just isn’t worth the bad publicity.
#6 Sometimes the legal and moral lines aren’t so clear. Even if Northwest/Delta is shown to be legally right, does that make it right? Should a large, well established, world renowned airline be able to control how a very localized, small, travel website runs its business?
What are your thoughts on this? Is Northwest/Delta going too far or are they justified in protecting their brand?Image: BobButcher