chris-montgomery-smgTvepind4-unsplashAt the risk of sounding glib, has any company fared better during the pandemic relative to its prospects otherwise than Zoom? Amazon has done well, sure, but Amazon will always do well. Zoom, on the other hand, has gone from useful to vital in a period of months, and probably more accurately in a period of a few weeks in the spring when every meeting became a virtual one. I can't attest to Zoom's outlook pre-COVID, but undoubtedly this period has led to the type of success that spurs thoughts of exponential growth and, inevitably, brings lawsuits.

The lawsuit, in this case, comes from the tech firm Zapier, which makes its name with online integration and automation tools. And names are at the heart of the suit, as Zapier claims Zoom in infringing upon its trademark with the name of its third-party integration tool Zapp, as reported by Kirsten Errick for Law Street Media. Beyond appearing to be a card flashed up on the screen in Batman '66, Zapp bears too much nominal similarity to Zapier's own integration tool, unsurprisingly named Zap.

Where the matter gets more complicated, and more tongue-twisting, is in the preexisting entanglement between Zoom and Zapier. According to the latter, Zapier offered Zoom and its users the ability to integrate Zoom with other third-party apps, utilizing Zapier's "zaps." And many of the apps integrated using Zoom's Zapp are apps that could otherwise be integrated with a "zap" from Zapier. So not only are the names nearly identical, the offerings bear an overwhelming resemblance as well, at least in Zapier's telling.

Thus Zapier's claims are what you might expect given these circumstances: that the practically identical name infringes upon its mark, and that the similarity creates confusion amongst consumers, particularly given the preexisting relationship between the two companies and products. Errick cites Zapier's complain in noting that consumers may already be confused, pointing to social media posts asking if the company had been acquired by Zoom.

Zapier does have some strong points; the names are essentially the same, save for the superfluous 'p', and Zoom can't claim ignorance of the Zapier brand if the companies were working together for years prior. And Zoom had an entire constellation of names to choose from, so why land upon one that is so similar to one in use by another company particularl when the products themselves bear so much in common as well? Perhaps Zoom simply didn't have any such concerns, or the thought simply hadn't occured, or maybe they were feeling themselves after a gangbuster 2020. Regardless, they've placed themselves in a spot they'd sooner not be in, although it does strike one as amusing that the proceedings for the case might take place on Zoom.