ExxonMobil Claims Fox's FXX Network Logo Violates Trademark Law

We own the interlocking X design, says the gas giant.

This is a gas. In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in Texas federal court, ExxonMobil contends that cable TV's FXX network has crossed the line by interlocking the X's in its logo.

The multinational oil and gas corporation says it has a design mark over a stylized EXXON and has continuously used it since 1971. The logo of the recently launched FXX Network, it says, "is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, or to deceive customers and potential customers of the parties … as to some affiliation, connection, or association of Defendants' business with ExxonMobil."

ExxonMobil apparently would much prefer to be associated in the minds of the public with gas pumps -- its complaint (read here) pictures a few -- than with sitcoms like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League. The company doesn't cite specific evidence that consumers are confused about the source of origin over the cable TV logo, but it does point to Internet postings from those who are "making an association."

Here are some examples of what ExxonMobil's search engine monkeys turned up:

  • A comment on NeoGAF.com by user "GungHo" copying the FXX logo from a previous post and asking "'Were they inspired by the Exxon logo?"
  • A comment on AVclub.com by user "The Enchanted Goatee" stating "It looks like a misprinted Exxon logo "
  • A comment on HeapersHangout.com from user "lee4hmz" stating "Just saw the FXX logo....who thought it was a good idea to rip off Exxon?"
  • A pair of comments on TV.com from user "JT_Kirk." The first states "That FXX logo has to go, that is awful on a plate. Also, Exxon is going to be pissed."

Taking the cue, ExxonMobil is claiming trademark infringement, a Lanham Act violation, dilution, unjust enrichment and unfair competition. The plaintiff is demanding a permanent injunction, trebled damages, an accounting of Fox's profits and legal fees.

Whatever the merits of the trademark claims, there's the side issue of Fox being in a fight with a company that last year had the second-most revenue of any in the world. That said, the company appears to be frugal with its advertising budget. It's not even in the top 100 in terms of advertising expenditures, according to AdAge.

"This lawsuit is entirely meritless," a spokeswoman for FX Network told Bloomberg News. "We are confident that viewers won't tune into FXX looking for gas or motor oil and drivers won't pull up to an Exxon pump station expecting to get It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

E-mail: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner