AutoZone, Inc. v. Strick, No. 03 C 8152, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 8, 2010) (Darrah, J.).
Judge Darrah, after a bench trial, held that defendant’s use of his Oil Zone and Wash Zone marks did not create a likelihood of confusion with plaintiff AutoZone’s Auto Zone trademarks.*
Likelihood of Confusion
Only one of the seven likelihood of confusion factors weighed in AutoZone’s favor – the strength of AutoZone’s mark. But the strength of the mark was outweighed by the dissimilarity of both the marks and the services offered by the parties. Apart from the common use of the word “zone” there was little similarity between plaintiff’s AutoZone and defendant’s Oil Zone/Wash Zone. And while AutoZone sells auto parts, defendant performs automatic services.
AutoZone’s four-year delay exceeded the analogous Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act three-year statute of limitations. The fact that defendant’s alleged infringement “fell through the cracks” and was not acted on for four years, was not a sufficient excuse for the delay. And defendant was prejudiced by AutoZone’s delay based upon defendant’s four years of advertising the Oil Zone/Wash Zone names.
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