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Big Oil Wins a Trademark Fight

SAN JOSE (CN) - A federal judge denied a request for a temporary restraining order from a company that accuses the American Petroleum Institute of "fracking" its trademark in political ads.

Choose Energy, which that helps people choose energy suppliers, likely won't be able to prove that the lobbying group American Petroleum Institute offers a service that competes with the company, U.S. District Judge Paul Grewal ruled on Oct. 28.

The Trademark Act of 1946 prevents unauthorized use of a trademark if it is used to confuse potential consumers of a commercial transaction.

Choose Energy provides an "online marketplace" for consumers to compare energy suppliers. It calls itself "energy unbiased," and sued the American Petroleum Institute for using the phrase Choose Energy in an ad campaign that backs pro-oil and gas candidates in this year's general election.

Choose Energy's website is, while API's is

Grewal found that though the marks are nearly identical, and that "perhaps API should have known better," Choose Energy is "unlikely to succeed on the merits given the lack of competition between the parties and their services."

"API's activities are clear - and undisputedly - political in nature. They are also wholly and completely distinct from the commercial services offered by Choose Energy," Grewal wrote. "There is no world in which API's online political activity might compete with Choose Energy's nonpartisan energy platform."


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