Kanab-based Best Friends Animal Society says PetSmart Inc.’s use of a logo similar to its own confuses consumers and has caused irreparable damage to the nonprofit.
In a lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court, Best Friends asked that a judge tell PetSmart to stop using the logo and destroy anything that displays it — including merchandise, documents and advertisements — within 30 days of a potential court order.
A PetSmart spokeswoman said Friday night that “as a practice, PetSmart does not comment on pending litigation.”
In the suit, Best Friends explains that it has reached out to PetSmart multiple times since it noticed the company’s use of the logo, beginning last year. The nonprofit began using its logo by summer 2003, and a patent was approved in 2014, according to the court filing.
Best Friends fears that because the logos are so similar — displaying the eyes, nose and smiling mouth of an animal — and because both logos are used for pet adoption, the company is unfairly benefitting from the nonprofit’s reputation.
In addition to its location in Kanab, called the Sanctuary, the group operates five pet rescue and adoption facilities around the United States, the document says. It has gained national attention for rescuing animals in 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, providing a safe home for 22 dogs rescued from then-NFL player Michael Vick’s dog-fighting ring in 2008 and appearing in a National Geographic reality TV show.
Last year, nearly 32,000 people visited the Sanctuary, the filing says, and 9,700 people volunteered there.
Recently, representatives have been in Texas helping with animal rescue and recovery after Hurricane Harvey.
People recognize the Best Friends logo, the suit says, and associate it with the nonprofit’s “philanthropic mission and humane standards of quality and care.”
Best Friends submitted a formal cease and desist letter to PetSmart in June, according to the filing, but the company refused to comply and informed the nonprofit that it will “no longer provide funding for Best Friends as it had done in the past until Best Friends withdrew its trademark infringement claims.”
Best Friends is also asking the judge to order PetSmart to pay damages, turn over profits and pay for attorney fees.
It also requested a jury trial.