PNC Sues Plaid Over Alleged Trademark Infringement

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PNC Financial Services Group has filed a lawsuit against Plaid in Pennsylvania federal court alleging trademark counterfeiting, trademark infringement, false advertising and other wrongdoing for reputedly using PNC’s name and logo in Plaid apps.

“PNC brings this action because defendant Plaid Inc. has sought to obtain trust and consumer confidence from consumers by intentionally designing user interfaces to misleadingly suggest that Plaid was affiliated or associated with, or sponsored by, PNC,” according to the lawsuit.

The complaint claims that Plaid Inc. has created a user interface for financial apps without permission that harnessed the bank’s trademark, a PNC logo and PNC’s color scheme.

Plaid allegedly used those elements to “replicate a genuine PNC login page in order to mislead consumers into believing they are entering their sensitive personal and financial information in PNC’s trusted and secure platform or a platform that is otherwise associated or affiliated with, or sponsored by, PNC,” according to the complaint.

The suit also claims that when PNC users log into their accounts via Plaid apps, Plaid “deceptively and fraudulently collects, stores, aggregates, and monetizes consumers’ sensitive financial credentials and transactions in violation of consumers’ privacy, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and other laws.” PNC said those allegations are subject to a separate consumer class-action lawsuit called Cottle v. Plaid.

PNC is asking the court to stop Plaid from any alleged copyright infringement, and to force Plaid to run an ad campaign disassociating PNC from Plaid apps. The bank also wants up to $2 million in statutory damages for “each type of service sold, offered for sale, or distributed by defendant under the registered PNC [trademarks].”

Additionally, the bank wants the court to order Plaid to pay “actual damages in an amount to be determined (but exceeding $75,000), caused by the foregoing acts, and [a tripling of] such damages” in accordance with applicable laws. Plus, PNC wants Plaid to pay “punitive damages in an amount to be determined,” as well covering the bank’s legal expenses in the case.

A Plaid spokesperson told PYMNTS that the company denies PNC’s allegations and does not sell or rent consumer information. The spokesperson added that Plaid makes clear its role in allowing consumers to share information from their financial accounts with the programs they select.

“We dispute PNC’s allegations — Plaid uses logos as references to make sure users pick and link the right bank, not as trademarks,” the person said. “We previously notified PNC about multiple changes that we already made that nullify any purported concerns. We will vigorously defend this case and continue to work with thousands of banks to ensure that consumers have access to the financial apps they depend on for their financial well-being.”

The lawsuit comes at a time when a judge has set a June 28, 2021, start date for a trial to consider a U.S. Justice Department antitrust challenge to Visa‘s planned $5.3 billion purchase of Plaid, according to a Law360 report.

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