Snap Inc, the newly named parent company of U.S. messaging and photo-sharing app Snapchat is facing a new lawsuit claiming it stole the trade name and reputation of an online dating services company called Snap Interactive Inc. In a trademark lawsuit filed on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Snap Interactive said the harm it is suffering is heightened by Snap's plans to go public next year in what is expected to be one of the biggest tech initial public offerings of the year.
New York-based Snap Interactive, which operates a portfolio of dating applications and recently announced plans in August to merge with a company called Paltalk, argues that it has used "Snap" as a trade name linked to its online social networking services as early as 2008, years before the earliest iterations of Snapchat. "(Snap Interactive) is being irreparably harmed by Defendant's use of the SNAP INC. trade name or confusingly similar variations thereof to refer to its business and to sell and advertise its own products and services," the complaint says.
Snap Interactive seeks, among other things, unspecified damages, an accounting of Snap's profits flowing from its use of the new name, and a court order blocking Snap's name change; Snapchat changed its name to Snap about a month ago in a move widely seen as part of a bid to rebrand the company and expand beyond its social messaging roots. At the same time, the company introduced its first hardware product, a pair of video-recording sunglasses called Spectacles.
A spokesman for Snap said the claims in the lawsuit are without merit, but declined to comment further. A lawyer for Snap Interactive declined to comment on the lawsuit and referred all questions to the company. Snap Interactive President Jason Katz said the name change has caused "enormous confusion" among users of his company's social networking sites, investors and job-seekers.
Venice, California-based Snap has also added advertising and sponsored content in recent years. The company has told investors to expect $1 billion in advertising revenue in 2017.
"Now that we are developing other products, like Spectacles, we need a name that goes beyond just one product - but doesn't lose the familiarity and fun of our team and brand," the company said when it announced its name change in September. "We decided to drop the 'chat' and go with Snap Inc!"
* The case is Snap Interactive Inc v. Snap Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 1:16-cv-08313.