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Prime, Inc. takes Amazon to court over retailer’s use of ‘Prime’ on its trucks

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Prime, Inc. is suing online retailer Amazon over the use of its “Prime” logo on its trucks, which the Springfield, Missouri-based carrier says is a trademark infringement that puts its reputation at risk while Amazon unfairly benefits off their good name. ( Associated Press: IRWIN THOMPSON/Dallas Morning News)

Within the world of trucking, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who’s never heard of Prime, Inc. The Springfield, Missouri-based carrier is one of the largest trucking companies in the nation.

But to the general population, say the word “Prime,” and a different, even larger company is apt to come to mind, and since transporting goods is a big part of what this company does, the folks at Prime, Inc. are concerned about public misconceptions about whose trucks are whose.

They are so concerned, in fact, that on July 2, Prime, Inc. filed a lawsuit in U.S District Court, Western District of Missouri seeking to have Amazon’s trademark revoked on its Amazon Prime name and that Prime, Inc. is entitled to “the greater of three times Amazon’s profits or three times any damages” the carrier has sustained since Amazon began running its own trucks with the Amazon Prime logo in 2016.

Amazon was founded in 1994 and has grown to be the world’s largest retailer. In 2005, it began a premium service called Amazon Prime, providing customers with expedited delivery for an annual fee. In 2016, it was reported that Amazon had 54 million Prime subscribers in 17 countries.

Over the years, Amazon has used the “Prime” name for a number of optional services for Amazon Prime members: Prime Music streaming, Prime Reading e-books, Prime Pantry grocery delivery, Prime Video (later changed to Amazon Instant Video), and Prime Now, a service in some cities that provides deliveries within two hours of order. In 2013, it was announced the company was developing Prime Air, which is expected in the next few years to provide regular deliveries by drone for small orders within a few miles of an Amazon Fulfillment Center.

Prime, Inc. isn’t concerned with those services, per se. Their problem is with Amazon’s use of the word “prime” on its trucks, which the carrier says has the potential to cause confusion and do harm to its reputation and bottom line.

According to the lawsuit, Prime, Inc. first made an assertion of copyright infringement more than two year ago when it complained directly to Amazon. By continuing to use the logo, the lawsuit contends, Amazon’s actions are “intentional, willful and malicious.”

The lawsuit claims that even though the logos the two companies use are distinctive in appearance, the main element of both is the word “prime,” which is

The lawsuit asserts that even though the logos are distinguishable, the prominence of the word “prime” in each is enough to cause confusion.

enough to cause confusion. It is Prime, Inc.’s contention that this confusion is harmful for two reasons.

The first assertion is that Prime, Inc., which was founded in 1970, has been running its trucks with its logo since 1980, and had established a reputation from which Amazon has unfairly benefited. The suit also contends that Prime, Inc. is at risk of having its reputation damaged when dissatisfied Amazon customers erroneously confuse the two companies.

Prime, Inc.’s lawsuit argues that the carrier had established common law rights to the name. But in 2005, Amazon received a trademark for its “Prime” name. So, when Prime, Inc. sought a trademark on the “prime” name in 2011 and again in 2017, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected the application both times because of the close similarity to the already-registered Amazon Prime.

The lawsuit seeks to have Amazon’s trademark revoked, alleging that Amazon had falsely represented in its application that their service would provide “expedited shipping service for others” when in fact it did not even transport its own goods until nearly a decade later.

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ATA For-Hire Truck Tonnage index increases 0.2% in September

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Compared with September 2018, the SA index increased 3.5%. The index is up 4.1% year-to-date compared with the same period last year. (The Trucker file photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. — American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.2% in September after falling 4% in August.

In September, the index equaled 117.6 (2015=100) compared with 117.3 in August.

“This was the first month in 2019 that we did not see a significant increase or decrease in tonnage,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “For the entire third quarter, the index was up 1.2% over the previous quarter and 4.5% from a year earlier, both are nice gains.”

It is important to note that ATA’s tonnage data is dominated by contract freight, which is performing significantly better than the plunge in spot market freight this year.

August’s reading was revised down compared with our September press release.

Compared with September 2018, the SA index increased 3.5%. The index is up 4.1% year-to-date compared with the same period last year.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 114.8 in August, 7.5% below the August level (124). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.

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CMV market trifecta: Sales of used trucks decline m/m, y/y ytd

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September marks the first time since the fall of 2012 that the used truck industry has seen average prices fall month-over-month for three straight months. (The Trucker file photo)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Preliminary used Class 8 volumes (same dealer sales) fell 5% month-over-month in September, according to the latest preliminary release of the “State of the Industry: U.S. Classes 3-8 Used Trucks” published by ACT Research.

Additionally, the report indicated that longer-term comparisons yielded a 17% decline compared to September 2018, as well as a year-to-date drop of 19%, the 11th consecutive contraction for both time period comparisons.

Other data released in ACT’s preliminary report included sequential comparisons for September 2019, which showed that average prices and average age fell 3% each, while average miles climbed 5%.

ACT’s Classes 3-8 Used Truck Report provides data on the average selling price, miles, and age based on a sample of industry data. In addition, the report provides the average selling price for top-selling Class 8 models for each of the major truck OEMs – Freightliner (Daimler); Kenworth and Peterbilt (Paccar); International (Navistar); and Volvo and Mack (Volvo). This report is utilized by those throughout the industry, including commercial vehicle dealers to gain a better understanding of the used truck market, especially as it relates to changes in near-term performance.

“September marks the first time since the fall of 2012 that the used truck industry has seen average prices fall month-over-month for three straight months,” said Steve Tam, vice president at ACT Research. “September also has the distinction of being the first time since mid-2017 that prices have fallen year-over-year for two consecutive months. From our perspective, there are two factors at work. Demand is falling, as evidenced by lower sales volumes, and supply is on the rise.”

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasts for the North America and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies.

ACT has scheduled its 62nd seminar for February 11-13, 2020. It will feature trucker, electrification and economic panels, as well as discussions on near-term demand of North American commercial vehicle markets and the pending impact of electrification on the market in the near future.

A commercial vehicle database workshop is also being planned in conjunction with this semi-annual event. Click here for seminar information.

For information about other ACT Research products and services, visit www.actresearch.net.

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At 0.3% dip, September retail sales drop by largest amount in seven months

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The overall economy grew at a 2% annual rate in the April-June quarter with much of that strength coming from a 4.6% surge in consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of economic activity. (© 2019 FOTOSEARCH)

WASHINGTON — Retail sales dropped in September by the largest amount in seven months, possibly signaling that rising trade tensions and turbulent markets are having an impact on consumer spending.

Retail sales fell 0.3% last month following a 0.6% gain in August, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. It was the first decline since a 0.5% drop in February.

Retail sales are important to the trucking industry because trucks carry an estimated 75-80% of the merchandise sold at retail outlets.

Consumer spending was strong in the spring and economists had been counting on continued strength to protect the U.S. economy as it is buffeted by the fallout from President Donald Trump’s trade war with China.

The spending decline in October, which was unexpected, was influenced by special factors including a big 0.7% decline in sales at gasoline stations, a decline that likely reflected falling gas prices during the month.

The overall economy grew at a 2% annual rate in the April-June quarter with much of that strength coming from a 4.6% surge in consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of economic activity.

That spending pace had been expected to slow in the July-September quarter but still remain strong enough to support economic growth near the 2% rate seen in the spring.

But some economists are worried that a slowing global economy and the adverse impact of the U.S.-China trade war could slow overall growth so much that the country could see an increasing risk of a recession ending the current record-long U.S. expansion, which began in June 2009.

“It looks like the trade war has claimed yet another victim, in addition to diminished business confidence and reduced investment spending, … consumers are starting to chicken out,” said Chris Rupkey,  chief financial economist at MUFG in New York.

Many economists said the disappointing retail sales performance would make it more likely that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates in October for a third time this year to buy more insurance against a recession when they meet later this month.

Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said while there were special factors affecting the weak September sales performance, the report contained clear signs that consumption growth is slowing.

He said the report was consistent with his view that the overall economy will continue to slow to a rate of just 1% by the final three months of this year. He said that will prompt the Fed to cut rates again but not until the December meeting.

In addition to the drop in gasoline sales, sales of autos fell 0.9% in September after a solid 1.9% increase in August.

Sales at department stores were down 1.4% while sales at general merchandise stores, which include chain retailers such as Walmart and Target, fell 0.3%.

Sales also dropped at hardware stores, grocery stores and sporting goods stores. Clothing stores, restaurants and health care stores all saw increases.

Sales in a retail control group which focuses on key components that go into computations of GDP were unchanged in September after a 0.3% gain in August.

 

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