(CN) – An online multilingual education business called eVisa dilutes the well-known credit card company’s ubiquitous trademark, the 9th Circuit ruled.
The San Francisco-based panel upheld a federal judge’s ruling for Visa International in its trademark dilution dispute with JLS Corp., the company through which Joseph Orr runs eVisa.
“Orr traces the name eVisa back to an English language tutoring service called ‘Eikaiwa Visa’ that he ran while living in Japan,” the ruling states. “‘Eikaiwa’ is Japanese for English conversation, and the ‘e’ in eVisa is short for Eikaiwa.”
Eikaiwa Visa is meant to suggest “the ability to travel, both linguistically and physically, through the English-speaking world,” JLS claimed.
It argued that it should be free to use the term “visa,” which is found in the dictionary.
But the three-judge panel disagreed, ruling that the two companies’ marks are effectively identical and that the only difference is the prefix “e,” which is commonly used to refer to the electronic or online version of a brand.
“She sells sea shells by the sea shore. That’s swell, but how about Shell espresso, Tide motor oil, Apple bicycles and Playboy computers?” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the panel, which unanimously agreed that those usages would constitute trademark dilution in the same way eVisa does.