Pintrips wins legal battle with Pinterest over its name

Among startups, there is typically nothing more depressing than a giant, well-funded business bringing a lawsuit against you. But the legal victory of Pintrips, a tiny startup that’s built a fare-comparison tool, makes it tempting to believe that the little guys can sometimes come out on top.

The extraordinary two-year legal saga of Pintrips has ended in a California U.S. federal court.

In a bench trial, a judge sided with Pintrips. He ruled that the travel-planning site can’t be blocked from using its like-sounding name.

The judge found that Pintrips invented its name by its own efforts. He was persuaded by the evidence that “pin” has been used as a generic term by the digitally savvy before either company was born.

Two years ago Pinterest, which claims to be the country’s third-most visited social network, alleged that Pintrips chose a name similar to its own and thus infringed on its trademark.

But in his decision, the judge noted that:

“When [the] facts are weighed together, it is clear that Pinterest had not attained the status of a household name by November of 2012.”

Despite the risk of significant legal costs and distraction, Pintrips defended itself until the end, represented by the law firm Kenyon & Kenyon. Its lawyers won their argument that the pinning feature of Pintrips satisfies “all three legal elements of fair use” in US law.

It’s refreshing when an instinctive empathy for an underdog is borne out by the facts, as is apparently the case here. The decision is posted below, in full.

EARLIER, ON THE TRIAL: Sharpening up: Pintrips tells Pinterest there is no sin in pinning

Tnooz’s 2012 profile of Pintrips

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Sean O'Neill

About the Writer :: Sean O'Neill

Sean O’Neill had roles as a reporter and editor-in-chief at Tnooz between July 2012 and January 2017.



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  1. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

    The Pintrips team deserves a round of applause for sticking to their guns. Pinterest clearly had the money and power to exert influence of their smaller brethren. The judge stuck to the facts, as he should have done and was able to separate myth and fiction. Surprisingly if one examines the testimony in the case – one could draw conclusions of the tactics that such a large player could use on smaller players. Fortunately justice did prevail.


  2. Stephen

    It is great to see a Judge ruling in a fair manner, as the largest and smallest businesses in our industry wish to see strong healthy competition its a shame that a great entrant to our industry had to ensure a 2 year legal battle, Well Done Pintrips, you stuck with the fight when many would give up


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