Retailers Dispute Wal-Mart Trademark Request

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Retailers Dispute Wal-Mart Trademark Request

DALLAS -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. wants to trademark the acronym EDLP or "everyday low prices," filing an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in July 2005 to protect it for its own use. Competitors argue that use of the term is already widespread, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The term "everyday low prices" denotes the practice among retailers of consistently offering goods at the lowest price rather than keeping prices higher and promoting temporary price reductions to draw in shoppers, the report stated.

Wal-Mart, Bentonville, Ark., applied for the exclusive designation as part of an internal review of its marketing phrases and terminology and also applied to trademark the term "rollback" in August 2006, and received a trademark registration in September 2005 for the term "Always Low Prices. Always," The Wall Street Journal reported.

"We felt it was important to review the brands and terms that are specific to our business and to the Wal-Mart culture to determine whether any of them should be registered for trademark protection," Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley said in the report.

Wal-Mart's application does not state for how long the retailer has used EDLP, and two major retailers have objected to it, and 10 more have asked for an extension to decide whether to object. Eden Prairie, Minn.-based grocer Supervalu Inc. and the National Grocers Association of Arlington, Va. are among those opposed. Supervalu's attorneys wrote in the retailer's opposition letter that it has used the term "everyday low prices" since 1984, according to the report.

"To the extent the applicant could possibly claim any trademark rights in the EDLP acronym, such rights have been abandoned as a result of the applicant's failure to enforce those alleged rights against third-party users of identical or similar designations," Supervalu's opposition statement explained.

Additonally, the National Grocers Association wrote in its statement, "In the grocery and supermarket industry, the acronym has been used for more than 20 years by many retailers, both internally and externally in their marketing materials, to indicate that they offer everyday low prices."

Retailers and associations that have asked for more time to weigh an opposition bid include Food Lion LLC; Associated Grocers Inc., of Baton Rouge, La.; Unified Western Grocers, of Pasadena, Calif.; home-improvement retailer Lowe's Cos. of Mooresville, N.C.; and the National Association of Convenience Stores, of Alexandria, Va., reported The Wall Street Journal.