What’s in a name? To Bill Foley, apparently, not much: After all, when he bought the company that would make him a billionaire back in 1984, he didn’t apparently care that it shared a sobriquet with another rather well-known player in the financial services space. He cared so little, in fact, that when that company—Fidelity National Financial—bought a data processing operation in 2003, he named it Fidelity, too.
Indeed, his lack of care is such that when he got into the special-purpose acquisition company game way back in 2016, he used his first to buy another company called Fidelity—Fidelity & Guarantee Life—which he then sold to the first Fidelity he bought.
So, when one of his half-dozen (at least) blank-check companies struck upon the perfect acquisition company—advertising-technology player System1—he probably didn’t bother to Google the term “System1.” And given the opacity that’s built into the whole SPAC structure, System1 probably didn’t have to bother to tell him that had been accused of copyright infringement by another company called “System1,” and, what’s more, this other System1 was also an ad-tech company. Not that, given his history, Bill Foley was likely to care much about the coincidence, but the first System1 still cares very much.
In September, U.K. firm System1 Group PLC—yet another ad-tech firm, this one traded on London’s Alternative Investment Market as “SYS1”—filed a complaint in a New York court for trademark infringement, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices. “Such ongoing and expanding use” of the “SYSTEM1” mark, it said, “is likely to cause significant confusion….”
The American System1, formerly known as OpenMail, rebranded shortly after [April 2017]. In a statement, it claims the other firm has been aware of it since at least 2018 and only alleged trademark infringement after the announcement of the SPAC deal…. Still, the U.K. firm complained to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office back in 2017.
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