Off We Go, Into the Wild Yonder Service Mark Feud

There’s a bitter legal feud in the Wild Yonder out West. The trademark fighter pilot litigators at two telecoms are fueling their IP jets, checking their legal payloads, and heading for a showdown over the clear blue skies of eastern California and northern Nevada.

Carlsbad, California-based ViaSat®, owner of Yonder mobile broadband, fired the first salvo, launching a service mark infringement lawsuit against Yonder Wireless, a Reno, Nevada-based rural broadband provider. The legal filing contains a number of other claims in this business dispute. (Read the full text of the lawsuit below)

This intellectual property combat leads to an obvious question: Which came first – Yonder mobile broadband or Yonder Wireless?

Satellite and digital communications company ViaSat says that it has been operating Yonder since 2008,” began using its service marks “in commerce [on] October 3, 2008,” with two trademark registrations issued in January 2010: Nos. 3,739,881 and 3,978,158.

An undated announcement on Defendant Pearl Networks’ website says that the company “will be re-branding our operating companies under a single consumer brand Yonder Wireless.” (Inset, left)

How are the services offered by the two companies similar, and how are they different?

While both claim to offer high-speed wireless broadband to their customers, it appears that the markets they serve are distinct. A ViaSat brochure detailing Yonder Mobile Broadband says that the company’s service is used “on hundreds of business aircraft…commercial airliners, trains, and helicopters,” on maritime ships on the ocean. In addition to businesses, it says that it counts “the military services” as a customer.

The Yonder Wireless website suggests that it’s target market is quite different: customers living in “rural America.”

You be the judge. Read the allegations in ViaSat’s lawsuit below, and follow the case docket on Justia here.

Complaint for Service Mark Infringement – ViaSat, Inc. v. Pearl Networks, Inc., et al.