ZAP Futures filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois yesterday seeking to protect its trademark "Zap." ZAP Futures wants to prevent Zapata and its fledgling portal from calling its Internet stock services Zap and from using the Zap.com domain under several unfair competition and deceptive business practices laws.
Zapata spokesman Keith Lanigan said the company would not comment on the lawsuit.
ZAP Futures, with annual revenues of about $6 million, has provided online trading of commodity futures and options contracts for more than three years, court documents reveal. About 3,000 people use ZAP Futures online trading and software products.
But Zapata owns the zap.com Internet domain name and is aggressively developing a portal site to compete with leading Net directories such as Yahoo, Lycos, and Excite. Zapata tried to buy Excite in May, but the company rejected the bid.
Zapata has been on an acquisition binge since splitting into two companies last month. It has bought several Internet sites in an effort to expand its range of services.
At issue are its financial services, which include stock quotes and other market data and are similar to those provided by ZAP Futures.
"The services offered by ZAP Futures and Zapata are identical in that, among other things, both offer stock, commodity, quote, chart, news and research data provided by Data Broadcasting Corporation through its Signal Online service," the lawsuit stated. "Zapata's use of the name 'Zap' is confusingly similar to ZAP Future's mark, ZAP. Zapata's use of the name 'Zap' as a mark or trade name and its use of the domain name 'zap.com' in connection with stock and commodity futures and option, brokerage, and market advice and information services is likely to cause confusion of the trade and the public."
Zap Futures is being represented by the law firm of Sidley & Austin.