AIG and insurance broker settle long-running trademark dispute

The global insurer had faced a jury trial

AIG and insurance broker settle long-running trademark dispute

Insurance News

By Jen Frost

A trademark dispute between global insurance company American International Group (AIG) and insurance agency A.I.G Agency has been settled out of court.

The AIG trademark court action, which centered around use of the AIG name, had been slated to go to trial in front of a jury in January. 

However, AIG and A.I.G Agency have now settled for an undisclosed sum after years of legal back and forth.

AIG and A.I.G Agency – a long-running trademark dispute

A.I.G Agency, a St Louis, Missouri insurance agency, has claimed to have used the ‘AIG’ in its name since 1958, with global insurer AIG having used the mark since 1968, according to court documents.

In both 1995 and 2008, insurance giant AIG had written to A.I.G Agency to ask it to drop its name, it has been claimed in court documents.

Insurer AIG, which reported revenues of $56 billion in 2022, has had a federal trademark on the AIG name since 1981.

It was A.I.G Agency that brought the suit in 2017, with the agency having alleged that the insurer became a “direct competitor” in the Missouri and Illinois areas in 2012 when it began selling direct to consumers.

In August, an Eighth Circuit court reversed an earlier decision that had gone insurance behemoth AIG’s way.

“Our agency is very happy with the outcome,” Gregory Wherry, A.I.G Agency president, told Insurance Business. “After another record year of growth for our agency we are very excited for the future.”

AIG declined to comment.

Insurance trademark disputes – AIG and local Missouri-based A.I.G Agency not the first “David and Goliath” battle

The AIG and A.I.G Agency trademark is not the first time a small business has been pitched or pitched itself against an insurance giant.

In 2018, the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) ruled that insurtech Marshmallow could continue to use its name, following a bid by insurance broking giant Marsh to block its use.

“Although the average consumer will be aware that Marsh is a word meaning ‘a wet, muddy area of land’, considered in context, they are more likely to construe it as a surname,” it was stated in the Marsh and Marshmallow judgment.

The judgment continued: “The word Marshmallow will convey only one meaning i.e. ‘a soft, sweet food that is used in some cakes, puddings, and sweets’.”

Another UK Insurtech, Brolly, held a 2017 logo design competition after facing heat from US-headquartered insurer Travelers.

Ultimately, then start-up Brolly, which is now owned by UK insurer Direct Line Group (DLG), flipped its umbrella-like logo on its head.

Brolly unveiled an upside down logo after facing Travelers legal action threats

“[Flipping the umbrella upside down] means we get to keep our beloved logo while staying true to our mission – to turn insurance on its head,” Phoebe Hugh, then Brolly CEO and co-founder, said at the time.

Got something to say about insurance and corporate trademark disputes in light of AIG’s settlement with St Louis, Missouri insurance agency A.I.G Agency? Leave a comment below.

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