Insurance

Court revives ‘AIG’ trademark lawsuit against insurance giant

The AIG logo is seen at its building in New York’s financial district March 19, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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  • Appeals court finds judge improperly dismissed Missouri broker’s case
  • Judge had ruled lawsuit was filed too late

(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court ruled Friday that insurance giant American International Group Inc must face a trademark lawsuit brought by a Missouri insurance broker that also uses the AIG name, reversing a lower court decision.

Conflicting evidence should have kept a St. Louis federal court from ruling before trial that A.I.G. Agency Inc’s lawsuit was filed too late, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.

American International declined to comment. An attorney for A.I.G. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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A.I.G. said in its lawsuit that it started using the three-letter name shortly after it was founded in 1958. New York-based American International first used the “AIG” mark between 1968 and 1970 and received a federal registration for it in 1981.

The companies sparred outside of court over the name in 1995 and 2008. AIG rebranded its property-and-casualty insurance business as Chartis in 2009 following the parent company’s near-collapse during the 2008 financial crisis.

Chartis resumed using the AIG name in 2012.

A.I.G. sued in 2017. The company said it began experiencing significant customer confusion after American International’s 2012 name change and shift to direct customer advertising around the same time.

A federal judge ruled for American International in 2020, finding A.I.G. should have sued after it learned of potential confusion in 1995. But a three-judge 8th Circuit panel said Friday that A.I.G. may not have been put on notice of its claims until 2012.

A trademark infringement claim is not viable until a likelihood of confusion exists, and the district court “did not announce any test on which it relied for determining when a likelihood of confusion arose,” the 8th Circuit said.

The appeals court also said there was some evidence that confusion was not likely before American International’s marketing changes in 2012.

The case is A.I.G. Agency Inc v. American International Group Inc, 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 21-1948.

For A.I.G.: Anthony Simon of the Simon Law Firm

For American International: Zachary Tripp of Weil Gotshal & Manges

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Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Blake Brittain

Thomson Reuters

Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com


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