Toyota Motor Corp. may keep using the Lexus name for its forthcoming line of luxury cars, except in national advertising, until a decision is handed down in a trademark infringement case, a federal appeals court said Monday.
Mead Corp.'s Mead Data Central Inc. has sued Toyota, charging that the Lexus name infringes on its Lexis trademark for a computerized research service.A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Monday in Toyota's appeal of a ruling last month by a federal judge, who had sided with Mead and issued an injunction that would prohibit Toyota
from using the name Lexus or impose severe conditions on its use.
The appellate panel said Toyota can use Lexus, except in national advertising, until the court issues a decision on the merits of the case. Under an earlier stay of the injunction, Toyota had been uncertain whether it could use the Lexus name in letterheads and when answering the phone, according to its lawyer, Arthur Gray.
Mead, based in Dayton, Ohio, is not claiming that anyone would confuse a Lexus car with its Lexis research service. Instead, it is suing under a New York state law that protects trademarks from "dilution." Toyota says Lexus does not break the New York law.