Florida-Based Aircraft Brokerage Wins Fight With Warren Buffett’s NetJets to Protect IntelliJet Brand

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Nearly two years ago Florida-based IntelliJet International, a private jet sales and brokerage company, was sued for trademark infringement by NetJets Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company owned by Warren Buffet. A federal judge has just ruled in favor of IntelliJet’s Motion for Summary Judgment, which upholds IntelliJet’s right to operate under that name and orders that NetJets’ IntelliJet trademark registration be cancelled for failure to make use of the mark in commerce.

NetJets Inc., a Columbus, Ohio-based wholly-owned subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., filed suit against IntelliJet Group, LLC dba IntelliJet International for trademark infringement in January 2012. NetJets sells or leases shares (or fractions) of private jets to companies or private individuals, and is commonly referred to as a fractional jet ownership company. IntelliJet is a privately owned aircraft sales and brokerage company, which has operated under that name since 2005. IntelliJet’s primary business is selling high-end aircraft to a single company or private individual.

In a Summary Judgment decision dated December 19th, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Gregory L. Frost ruled in favor of IntelliJet, essentially ending a nearly two-year legal fight in which IntelliJet defended its corporate identity against the Warren Buffet company. In addition to upholding IntelliJet’s right to continue offering its services under the name IntelliJet, Judge Frost also ordered that NetJets trademark for its IntelliJet software be cancelled on the basis of abandonment. Since NetJets’ IntelliJet software is only used internally to provide services to the Columbus private jet company’s clients, and has never been placed in “use in commerce”, it does not meet the standards required of a trademark.

Spivack pointed out that IntelliJet and NetJets have both been featured in the same trade industry publication multiple times, and both attend some of the same trade shows every year. However, Spivack said he had never seen or heard of NetJets promoting a software program called IntelliJet at any time. In fact, personnel from both companies have interacted with each other dating back to well before the lawsuit was filed, including a personal visit by two NetJets sales representatives at IntelliJet’s main office in Jacksonville several years ago. Given that he had no knowledge about NetJets internal software, Spivack was surprised when he first learned of the lawsuit filing in January 2012. He expressed his annoyance for all the stress he and his family have suffered during the past two years, and for the enormous expense incurred to defend the company brand. Spivack said: “We felt it was the right thing to do and in the end, we prevailed. Considering all we’ve been through, it is satisfying to know that NetJets trademark for its IntelliJet software program has been cancelled.”

Dreitler True LLC, a Columbus-based law firm specializing in trademark, copyright, advertising and unfair competition law represented IntelliJet in the matter. Lead attorney Joe Dreitler said that NetJets and parent company Berkshire Hathaway Inc. were trying to throw their weight around by suing IntelliJet for trademark infringement. “We thought this was a case of trademark bullying,” Dreitler said. “A Warren Buffett company picking on a little guy that doesn’t have a fraction of Buffet’s financial resources.”

IntelliJet International is an aircraft sales and brokerage company headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. IntelliJet offers a full range of aviation consulting services, and specializes in the sale of large-cabin, long-range aircraft, many of which are not widely known to the general market. The IntelliJet team is well versed in all aspects of business and commercial aviation, to include the acquisition and importation of foreign aircraft, utilizing its extensive worldwide network of aviation professionals.


Case No. 2:12-cv-00059

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Gary Spivack, Executive Director
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