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Exxon Corp. v. Humble Exploration Co., Inc.

695 F.2d 96 (1983)

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Exxon Corp. v. Humble Exploration Co., Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

695 F.2d 96 (1983)

Facts

In 1917, Humble Oil & Refining Co. (plaintiff) was established for oil exploration and refining activities. In 1959, it merged with other regional affiliated companies to form a larger Humble Oil & Refining Co. and thereafter rebranded its products and service stations under the parent Humble trademark, along with the regional Esso and Enco trademarks, depending on the intended area of sale. Desiring uniform brand recognition, the parent and regional trademarks were all replaced with the singular national trademark Exxon. And in 1973, Humble Oil & Refining Co. became Exxon Co, U.S.A. Despite the changeover, Exxon initiated a trademark maintenance program to continue use of the Humble trademark in a manner other than as a brand name. As part of its trademark maintenance program, Exxon sold its then-existing inventories of product bearing the name Humble Oil & Refining Co.; made periodic sales of nominal amounts of Exxon gasoline, motor oil, and grease in pails bearing the name Humble and Exxon; sold Exxon bulk gasoline and diesel fuel to selected customers, who received Humble invoices, through three corporations organized for that purpose; and sold 55-gallon drum products all bearing the names Humble and Exxon. In 1974, the Humble Exploration Co., Inc. (defendant) was established under the trade name Humble, and litigation ensued. The district court enjoined Humble Exploration from using Humble as its trade name after finding that Exxon had not abandoned use of the Humble trademark. Humble Exploration appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Higginbotham, J.)

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