New York Startups GroupMe and Groupie In Legal Battle, This Gets Confusing

Last year a little known group messaging startup called Groupie filed a lawsuit when it’s similarly named competitor started blowing up. If you remember back to last summer, Group messaging startup, with a lot more flair, GroupMe was acquired by Skype.

If you haven’t heard of Groupie that’s no surprise. The iPhone only group messaging platform had 60,000 users for about a million messages per day. GroupMe on the other hand has 4.6 million users who send over half a billion messages per month. GroupMe also just released no features surrounding events. What’s better than to pair a group messaging app with events you do in groups.

Fresh on the heels of GroupMe’s acquisition last August, Groupie quickly went to work suing GroupMe around trademark allegations. According to BetaBeat Groupie filed for their trademark back in 2009. That seems straight forward but in reality it looks like Groupie got a little jealous of it’s competitors success.

Betabeat reports that last years Groupie vs GroupMe lawsuit received a little bit of coverage from the likes of GigaOM, SAI and themselves. GigaOM’s piece got picked up by the Wall Street Journal, and then the lawsuit went quiet.

We’re not clear on why it’s been 11 months for this suit to resurface but GroupMe went back into court on July 11th and filed suit against Groupie. GroupMe is looking for declarations from the court that there is “no likelihood of confusion” between GroupMe’s mark and the Groupie mark. GroupMe is also looking for the court to declare that they have not violated any mark of Groupie’s.

Betabeat wasn’t able to get a statement from GroupMe and of course Groupie was more than willing to talk. Here’s what they said to Betabeat:

“This newly filed action is just the latest volley in an ongoing trademark dispute rooted in the confusing similarities between Groupie’s pre-existing, validly registered trademark “Groupie” and the nearly identical Groupme name. Groupie initially filed an Opposition Proceeding against Groupme before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in July of 2011 (Groupie LLC v. Groupme Inc., TTAB Opposition No. 91200478). Groupie’s Opposition Proceeding seeks to protect its trademark by preventing Groupme from registering the confusingly similar “Groupme” mark. Not only do ”Groupie” and “Groupme” look and sound the same, the two companies’ products are virtually identical and are distributed through the same channels of commerce, thus causing ongoing consumer confusion. Additionally, the evidence will show that Groupme’s claim for cancellation of Groupie’s valid trademark is a late pursued theory premised on the illogical conclusion that the trademarked brand ”Groupie” is a generic term. Groupie is confident that claim will be summarily rejected. In short, Groupie has been vigorously fighting to protect its trademark in the Opposition Proceeding and will do the same in the newly filed action.”

When you consider all the facts it’s hard to say who is right and who’s wrong. Groupie did start out three years before GroupMe however GroupMe is much more successful. Groupie may have wanted to protect their idea, and name but now it does just look like they’re going after deep pockets. It’s really up for a judge to decide.  Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.



More on GroupMe here

Source: Beatbeat

Nibletz is the voice of startups “everywhere else” here are more startup stories from “everywhere else”

We’re on a sneaker-strapped nationwide startup road trip, care to help?


You Might Also Like