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Contxto – It looks like Amazon isn’t undefeatable after all. In an attempt to register its virtual assistant “Alexa” in Chile, the retail giant admitted defeat following numerous judicial roadblocks.

Both Chile’s Supreme Court and Industrial Property Tribunal (INAPI) barred Amazon from formally registering its product based on name complications. According to resources, German manufacturer Arnold & Richter Cine Technik previously patented a product under the same moniker in Chile.

Alexa is a multiuse “assistant” transforming the manner in which people perform mundane tasks. By calling out “Alexa,” it allows users to create routines, make video calls, read the news, send messages, etc.

To prevent error, deception or confusion among consumers, Alexa won’t be legitimized in Chile anytime soon. This may discourage CEO Jeff Bezos who began the brand registration process in January 2016.

Why is this controversial?

Officials from Amazon tried to repeal the Supreme Court’s original decision but experienced further rejection at INAPI in December 2018. This committee oversees registration, administration and implementation of industrial property policies.

“The brands in question are graphically and phonetically identical,” said an INAPI representative, who thought the brands were too similar.  “The product protected by the previously registered trademark is closely related to those requested.”

Sources say that Amazon obtained a letter of consent from Arnold & Richter Cine Technik. Theoretically, this should have allowed both products under the same name to “coexistence” in the same marketplace. Despite the justification, the country’s highest court rejected Amazon’s appeal once again on January 10.

“The foregoing is decisive since the owner of the base trademark (Arnold & Richter Cine Technik) authorized the coexistence of his trademark with Amazon’s,” said the corporation’s lawyer, Christian Ernst.

“There is no sufficient legal reason to understand that the average consumer will be misled or cheated, taking into account that both brands distinguish different products.”

Final thoughts

Alongside competitors like Apple’s Homepod or Google’s Home, virtual assistants like Alexa won’t be disappearing anytime soon. Voice-activated software has even surpassed smartphones as the fastest growing devices on the market. With that said, I’d say Alexa represents the future of technology.

Judiciaries may be siding with Arnold & Richter Cine Technik, but sooner or later, Chilean courts will compromise.

-JA

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