Clearwire wins first round in Sony Ericsson trademark fight

WiMax operator Clearwire has won the first round in what might prove to be a protracted battle with Sony Ericsson over its latest company logo: a Federal judge has denied Sony Ericsson’s request for an immediate injunction barring use of the logo, which means Clearwire can continue using it while the case proceeds.

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“Clearwire is pleased with the federal court’s decision to deny Sony Ericsson’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the use of the Clear marks at issue in the case,” the company wrote in a statement distributed via email. “We expect that the final disposition of the case will be in our favor and that it will demonstrate that the Clear branding is clearly differentiated from the Sony Ericsson brand.”

The federal court denied the ruling for a preliminary injunction, finding Sony Ericsson had failed to demonstrate that Clearwire’s logo was sufficiently similar to Sony Ericsson’s to introduce consumer confusion and cause irreparable harm to the Sony Ericsson brand.

Although the ruling for a preliminary injunction is, in theory, just the start of a trademark dispute case, industry watchers don’t expect the tiff between Clearwire and Sony Ericsson to escalate much from here: if Sony Ericsson can’t prove the logo being in the market now is damaging their brand, they won’t have much leverage to encourage Clearwire to change their trademark or come to some sort of settlement agreement. And Clearwire has other branding issues to face, as the company struggles to come up with money to continue building out its WiMax network—and potentially considers shifting away from the retail business entirely to focus on offering wholesale WiMax services to others.