SEATTLE, WASHINGTON — Virgin Group is suing Alaska Airlines Inc. for approximately $160 million in a London court over a trademark deal, telling a judge on the first day of a trial on Monday that it is entitled to royalties even if the Virgin brand at issue is no longer in use.

Lawyers for Virgin units Virgin Aviation TM Ltd and Virgin Enterprises Ltd argued that Alaska must make a roughly $8 million "minimum royalty" payment each year until 2039 under a trademark license agreement reached in 2014 between Virgin and Virgin America Inc, which was acquired by Alaska's parent company in 2016.

"The minimum royalty is due as a debt, as consideration for the grant of the right to use the Virgin brand, irrespective of whether, and if so, how much, the Virgin brand is actually used by Alaska, " Virgin’s lawyer Daniel Toledano said in written submissions at the start of a week-long trial at London’s High Court.

Tom Weisselberg, representing Alaska, told the court that "Virgin’s interpretation is an obviously surprising one."

Virgin granted a trademark license to Virgin America to use the Virgin brand in connection with the operation of a U.S. domestic airline before Alaska Air Group Inc. completed its $2.6 billion acquisition of Virgin America.

Alaska merged its operations with Virgin America in 2018 and says it stopped using the Virgin brand the following year.

Virgin argued that Alaska Airlines, as the legal successor to Virgin America Inc, is obliged to make the annual payment even if it has stopped using the Virgin brand.

Via Reuters