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Will the true “Black Card” please stand up?

Six months ago, I blogged about how the Visa BLACK CARD left a bad taste in my mouth.  See post here.  American Express his issued a mysterious “Black Card” (officially called the Centurion Card) for several years.  Yet American Express never filed to protect the phrase “Black Card” (perhaps believing it was generic?) and did not register or own blackcard.com.  The last year Visa unveiled a card called the BLACK CARD (with much less exclusivity and a smaller annual fee than its rival’s card)  for which it secured the blackcard.com domain name and a trademark registration.

The Visa “Black Card” is further taunting the American Express version by touting itself as “The World’s Most Prestigious and Versatile Credit Card.”  Now they find themselves in court defending an action from American Express (see complaint below), and a cancellation proceeding at the USPTO regarding the BLACK CARD registration.

Lesson: Had American Express properly protected its (very valuable) Black Card brand up front, it could potentially have avoided a great headache, large legal fees, and possible confusion with a much less prestigious card offering from Visa.  Even if it wins the case, at what cost? At a minimum, a loss in prestige and lots of money spent on needless legal costs.

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