TrueCar Inc. and Sonic Automotive Inc. have reached a settlement in TrueCar’s lawsuit against the dealership group over trademark infringement.
As part of the settlement, Sonic has agreed to transfer to TrueCar all rights to and use of its True Price, True View and all other True-related marks. Sonic also said it would lift its ban on using TrueCar at its dealerships, according to a statement issued by TrueCar today.
Sonic will stop using True Price and other True-related marks effective immediately, TrueCar said.
“Protecting our valuable intellectual property is of paramount importance to our business, so we are pleased to resolve this litigation,” TrueCar CEO Scott Painter said in the release. “Sonic has been a valuable business partner in the past and we look forward to re-establishing a mutually beneficial business relationship with them in the future.”
‘Evaluating’ renewed ties
In the same statement, Jeff Dyke, Sonic’s executive vice president of operations, said that the dealership group was pleased to come to a resolution with TrueCar.
“They will continue to build their brand around TRUE, and Sonic will continue to enhance its Sonic brand with its own unique, market-based pricing model,” Dyke said in the statement. “With the lawsuit resolved, Sonic has lifted its policy of not doing business with TrueCar and is open to evaluating from a corporate level whether its dealerships will participate in TrueCar programs going forward.”
The statement did not say whether the settlement involved any payments from either side.
TrueCar, a vehicle shopping site, sued Sonic, the nation’s fifth-largest dealership group, in August 2013 in a California federal court. The suit contended that Sonic was committing trademark infringement by using the term “True Price” for a new pricing system. In addition to trademark infringement, TrueCar's lawsuit accused Sonic of unlawful business practices, false advertising and unfair competition.
Ahead of court date
Sonic stopped using TrueCar at its dealerships the following January when its contractual obligations expired. At the time, Sonic President Scott Smith said he wouldn’t do business with someone who would sue Sonic. About 20 of Sonic’s then-105 dealerships had been using TrueCar, Smith said.
He also said that Painter had suggested the lawsuit would be dropped if Sonic signed up all its stores to use TrueCar’s service. At the time, Painter called that a mischaracterization of the facts.
The lawsuit had been slated to go to trial this September.