Piper sues air taxi startup Archer Aviation over trademark infringement

Avatar for eVTOLBy eVTOL | September 3, 2020

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 2 seconds.

The general aviation airplane manufacturer Piper Aircraft is suing eVTOL startup Archer Aviation, claiming that the company’s name infringes on the trademark for the Piper Archer product line.

Archer Aviation eVTOL air taxi
Archer Aviation revealed its winged eVTOL air taxi concept in May of this year. Piper’s attorneys sent the company a cease-and-desist letter in June. Archer Aviation Image

Piper filed its complaint Aug. 28 with the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. In it, the manufacturer points out that it has been using the Archer name for its light airplanes since 1976. Piper filed for the Archer trademark the same year, and renewed the trademark in 1998 for use in connection with “airplanes.” The company expects to sell its 5,000th new Archer model this year.

Palo Alto, California-based Archer Aviation was founded recently by a pair of young technology entrepreneurs, Brett Adcock and Adam Goldstein, with backing from Walmart eCommerce president Marc Lore. The company emerged from stealth in May of this year with a concept for a winged air taxi and a team of experienced engineers hired away from other eVTOL developers.

According to Piper, “Defendant’s unlawful use of Piper’s federally registered trademark Archer and trading off of, and otherwise cashing in on, the excellent reputation, extensive recognition, and goodwill associated [with] Piper’s trademark has become anything but ‘stealthy.’”

On June 23, Piper sent a letter to Adcock and Goldstein demanding that they cease and desist from using the name Archer “or any other confusingly similar designations.” Piper requested assurance of compliance no later than July 10, but according to the complaint has not received any communication from Archer Aviation regarding the demand letter.

Meanwhile, Archer Aviation has a pending trademark application for use of the Archer name in conjunction with “aircraft taxi transport, taxi transport via aircraft, providing aircraft taxi booking services via mobile applications,” and other uses associated with air transportation.

Piper argues that the startup’s use of the name is “likely to cause customers, prospective customers and others in the trade to be confused, mistaken or deceived into believing, contrary to fact, that Defendant’s aircraft are designed by Piper and/or manufactured by Piper . . . and/or that Defendant or Defendant’s business is somehow affiliated with Piper.”

Piper is asking the court to issue an order permanently enjoining the startup from using the Archer name. Piper also wants control over Archer Aviation’s domain name, flyarcher.com.

Attorneys for Archer Aviation have yet to respond to the complaint. In an email to eVTOL.com, Adcock said he has no comment on the matter.

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