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Prime Inc. goes after Amazon’s profits for trademark infringement

Amazon’s use of the word “prime” on trailers moving packages to retail and on-line customers is causing Prime Inc. to lose money and Amazon to profit at Prime’s expense, the Springfield, Missouri-based trucking company has alleged.

In a lawsuit filed on July 2 in federal court in the Western District of Missouri, Prime Inc. contends it is entitled to “the greater of three times Amazon’s profits or three times any damages” it has sustained as a result of Amazon’s past and current trademark infringement and related unfair competition.

According to its lawsuit, Prime Inc. claims it notified Amazon [NASDAQ: AMZN] of the alleged trademark infringement more than two years ago, through written correspondence from Prime Inc. and then through proceedings Prime initiated at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

“Nevertheless, Amazon has persisted in displaying one or more of the Accused Marks on trailer trucks and other shipping and transportation vehicles in commerce, and thereby has continued to infringe Prime Inc.’s exclusive rights…and has continued to engage in unfair competition in violation of the Lanham Act,” the lawsuit states. “Amazon’s infringement and unfair competition are therefore intentional, willful, and malicious.”

Attorneys for Prime Inc. and Amazon were not available to comment.

The lawsuit asserts that in 2015, Amazon began moving goods to Amazon Prime loyalty program members and retail customers in its own trucks. Then, in 2016 or 2017, nearly 40 years after Prime first used “Prime Inc.” on its trucks, Amazon began displaying its “prime” logo on its own trucks.

While some might argue that the two “prime” markings do not look similar – Prime Inc. uses all upper-case letters, Amazon uses small case and in a different font – Prime Inc. nonetheless contends that Amazon’s marking is “identical in appearance, sound, meaning, and commercial impression” when compared to Prime’s Inc.’s marking. “The dominant component of each of these marks – the word ‘prime’ – is the same,” according to Prime Inc.

An attorney for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office found that because of this same dominant component of the markings, it is “given greater weight than any minor stylistic differences between the marks,” according to the lawsuit.

Also, because Prime Inc. and Amazon operate in the same transportation channels, Prime Inc. claims that consumers “have associated and are likely to continue to associate with Prime Inc. any defect, objection, or fault found with Amazon’s services, both at and after the point of sale.”

At the same time, Prime Inc. contends, consumers familiar with Prime Inc. and its transportation, trucking, and shipping services sold and marketed under its “Prime Inc.” logo “are likely to purchase and/or associate goodwill to Amazon based on the erroneous assumption that Amazon’s services are provided, authorized, sponsored, or endorsed by, or in some manner associated with, Prime Inc., both at and after the point of sale.”

The lawsuit also alleges that Amazon misrepresented to the trademark office how it planned to use its “prime” marking on trailers in connection with an expedited shipping service available to the public at large, versus shipping its own goods to its retail customers and Amazon Prime loyalty program members.

Prime Inc. has asked for a jury trial on its four-count lawsuit.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes Prime Inc. (No. 15).


  1. You do realize that an unsubstantiated comment like that is essentially libel and therefore illegal. And to take the side of job and business killer like Amazon is just plain dumb. I’ve been around Prime Inc and have dealtwith them through our company and have always been treated fairly. I don’t that they’re perfect, but a quick check of the reviews will show that customers and employees both think highly of the company.

    It sounds like sour grapes to me.

    1. To bad they don’t translate that so called quality in company in their stupidity of the drivers they hire or trained, or the fraudulent “lease purchase” program they offer!

    1. Oh boy! Prime, Inc., you are.going to lose your assets with this one. And I hope you do after ripping off so many hard-working people.wanting to become owner operators. You people are absolutely disgusting.

John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.