A Tampa, Fla., jury this week unanimously found self-storage company U-Haul International Inc. liable for federal and state trademark infringement for using the word “pods,” and has awarded $60.7 million in damages to the plaintiff, PODS Enterprises Inc. U-Haul was also found responsible for federal and state trademark dilution, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices, according to the source.
PODS Enterprises brought a lawsuit against U-Haul in U.S. District Court in Tampa in 2012, alleging the company “improperly and unlawfully'” used the trademark word on its website as a way to divert sales. U-Haul uses the word “pod” to describe its U-Box mobile-storage product. PODS delivers mobile-storage containers to homes and businesses, and then transports the filled containers to its storage facilities.
The trial began on Sept. 8 and lasted two weeks. It included eight jurors who listened to expert testimony about word definitions and usage. Deliberations lasted about four days, according to the source. U.S. District Judge James Whittemore presided over the trial.
“We thank the jury for their hard work and dedication,” said Aaron B. Parker, PODS’ senior vice president and general counsel. “PODS is the genuine brand leader in the containerized moving and storage industry and the jury’s finding recognizes that the PODS brand has become famous nationwide.”
PODS sought an estimated $170 million in the lawsuit, the source reported. The jury awarded the company $46 million in damages and $16 million in profit attributable to U-Haul for using the word “pods.” The source said it was unclear if U-Haul planned to appeal the verdict.
“U-Haul International is disappointed in the jury's verdict in the lawsuit brought by PODS Enterprises Inc.,” Sebastien Reyes, a U-Haul representative, said in a statement. “U-Haul respects the legal process, even when it is disappointed with the results, and it will continue to work within that process in this case.”
An attorney for PODS said the company plans to seek an injunction to force U-Haul to stop using the words “pod” and “pods,” the source stated.
Florida-based PODS is a provider of residential and commercial moving services in 46 U.S. states as well as Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. Founded in 1998, the company has more than 150,000 portable-storage containers in service.
Established in 1945, Phoenix-based U-Haul has more than 40 million square feet of storage space at more than 1,000 owned and managed facilities throughout North America.