Jury rejects Fortinet trademark claims against rival cyber firm Fortanix

REUTERS/John Adkisson
  • Fortinet said Fortanix was trying to ride its coattails
  • Jury found names were not likely to cause consumer confusion

Oct 18 - A jury in San Francisco federal court said on Monday that cybersecurity company Fortinet Inc had failed to prove during a nearly two-week trial that data-security provider Fortanix Inc infringes its trademark.

The jury rejected Fortinet's argument that Fortanix's name would cause consumer confusion.

Representatives for the companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Mountain View, California-based Fortanix makes data security and encryption software for cloud computing. Sunnyvale, California-based Fortinet, which makes firewalls, antivirus software, and a range of other cybersecurity products, sued Fortanix for trademark infringement in 2020.

Fortinet argued Fortanix's name was "highly similar in appearance and in sound" to its own, and said the startup was trying to take unfair advantage of Fortinet's reputation.

Fortanix told the court earlier this year that consumer confusion was unlikely because the companies take "fundamentally different approaches to cybersecurity using fundamentally different technologies," and their customers are "sophisticated IT professionals" who "typically spend months evaluating cybersecurity solutions before purchasing them."

The case is Fortinet Inc v. Fortanix Inc, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 3:20-cv-06900.

For Fortinet: Michael Friedland and Lauren Katzenellenbogen of Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear

For Fortanix: Vivek Jayaram and Palak Patel of Jayaram Law

(NOTE: This story has been corrected to clarify that Fortinet is the plaintiff and Fortanix is the defendant.)

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, for Reuters Legal. He has previously written for Bloomberg Law and Thomson Reuters Practical Law and practiced as an attorney. Contact: 12029385713