Alaska Airlines loses $160M trademark case to Virgin.

Alaska Airlines loses £130 million trademark dispute with Virgin Aviation over royalties. Court rules in favor of Virgin Group in licensing agreement case.

In a significant setback, Alaska Airlines has lost an appeal in a £130 million trademark case with Virgin Group. The dispute revolves around a trademark licensing agreement between Virgin and Virgin America, which was acquired by Alaska’s parent company in 2016.


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Key Points from the Case

  • A London court last year ruled that Virgin was entitled to royalties from Alaska Airlines, even though the U.S. airline no longer uses the Virgin brand.
  • The court ordered Alaska to pay a minimum royalty of £8 million per year until 2039, as per the terms of the 2014 trademark licence agreement between Virgin and Virgin America.
  • Alaska unsuccessfully argued that an agreement requiring it to pay £8 million a year for trademarks it has no intention of using was “commercially nonsensical.”
  • The Court of Appeal in London rejected Alaska’s appeal, stating that Virgin’s interpretation of the agreement was correct.

The Background

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America have a history of legal disputes. In 2016, Alaska Airlines acquired Virgin America, which had a pre-existing trademark licence agreement with Virgin. The agreement required Alaska to pay a minimum royalty of £8 million per year until 2039, regardless of whether or not Alaska used the Virgin branding.

Jed Stafford
Jed Stafford

MilesGeek was founded by Jed Stafford, a seasoned traveler with over a decade of experience. The concept of MilesGeek emerged after Jed booked numerous around-the-world itineraries using points and miles. Along the journey, a curious realization dawned upon him: his passion lay not in the intricacies of daily mileage hacks, but rather in the captivating narratives of the people and places encountered during travel.

As MilesGeek evolved, it attracted other writers who contributed compelling content. The name now reflects the number of miles we travel each year more so than reward miles.

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