A Massachusetts-based startup could end up having to change the name of its product after it caught the attention of Amazon. The online retail giant is challenging the family business in Littleton, arguing the name is too similar to its own product, Alexa.
Cousins George and Bob Colantuoni started Lifestyle Evolution nearly a year ago with the goal of helping senior-citizens age comfortably at home. They are currently working on a product called "Smart Alex" that would allow seniors to control all of their smart home devices on one simple application.
"Home security, medical devices, sensors, even windows and doors could be accessed on the dashboard of the app," Bob Colantuoni said.
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The cousins spent thousands of dollars on materials marketing the witty name, but said they recently received a call from attorneys for Amazon.
According to public records, the online retail giant is challenging the name "Smart Alex" in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In their opposition, Amazon's attorneys said the name is too similar to their product, Alexa, and could be "confusing" for consumers.
"I don't get it. I really don't get it," George Colantuoni said.
The cousins now have to decide if they will spend their time and money on fighting Amazon or start over. They said either way, it will come at a cost of roughly $75,000, which is what they spent on branding the first time around.
"For us to do that, it kind of puts us back at square one as far as marketing," George Colantuoni said.
NBC10 Boston did reach out to Amazon. A spokesperson said it is their policy not to comment on matters pertaining to active litigation.
The founders of Smart Alex have a month to respond to the opposition, and said at the end of the day, they would rather their company succeed than the name. If they decide to back down, the only question they have yet to answer is what to call their product next.
"I'm fairly confident with a lot of effort and a few beers, I can come up with a new name that is almost as good," George Colantuoni said. "It just hurts a little bit."