It turns out that “too good to be true” deal you scored on a Tiffany & Co. engagement ring at your local Costco wholesale store last month actually was just that. Tiffany & Co. filed a lawsuit against Costco this past Valentine’s Day after being tipped off by a customer located in California last November 2012 who complained to the company that she was disappointed to see the luxury jeweler’s diamond rings for sale at the discount wholesaler. (brandchannel). The tip moved Tiffany to launch an investigation during which the jeweler discovered that Costco had been falsely identifying engagement rings for sale in its store as “Tiffany” on in-store advertising signs for years and that in-store salespersons also referred to the rings as “Tiffany rings” when speaking with customers. (Complaint). Interestingly, the wholesaler did not identify the rings as “Tiffany” on their online website where Tiffany & Co.’s trademark policing could have easily picked up on the false identification suggesting Costco wanted to “avoid detection of it’s unlawful activities”. (Complaint).
The four-month legal saga between fashion mogul Tory Burch and her ex-husband Christopher Burch ended in early January with settlement talks. Although we will not get a chance to see this fashion-inspired “war of the roses” play out in court, there is certainly a legal lesson or two to be learned from this battle of the brands.
The Navajo Nation has been battling Urban Outfitters since 2011 alleging that the apparel and furnishings merchant violated their trademark rights to the name “Navajo”. The controversy started when Urban Outfitters mass-produced more than 20 faux-native items called “Navajo” or “Navaho.” The Natives protested products like the “Hipster Navajo Panty” and the “Navajo Print Flask”.
In early January, Lululemon Athletica lost their appeal to the TTAB over the registration of the wave design shown below.
The TTAB, affirming the decision of the Examining Attorney, held that the wave design was merely an ornamental decoration and that the public would not perceive the applicant’s mark as an indicator of source. The TTAB stated that such a mark could only warrant trademark registration if the applicant could show the mark had inherent or acquired distinctiveness, or that the applicant has used or registered the design in a non-ornamental manner for other goods or services.
When one normally thinks of “counterfeits”, one traditionally thinks of handbags, jewelry, trading cards, and maybe even money. Over the last few years, that category has expanded to include not only sports memorabilia, but tickets to sporting events as well. For months leading up to the Super Bowl, special agents from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and state and local police departments around the country worked in partnership with the NFL and other major sports leagues for their own battle against counterfeits called “Operation Red Zone.”
Trade secret misappropriation and breach of confidentiality by employees have been longstanding issues for companies who seek to maintain the competitive advantage which results from confidential and proprietary information. Therefore, it comes as no surprise when a company takes action against a former employee for these acts.
Levi Strauss in Trademark Infringement dispute over “V” pocket design.
Levi Strauss & Co. has always been an ardent defender of its pocket’s double arched stitch the, “Arcuate”, commonly known as the “V”. According to Lynn Downey’s book, Levi Strauss & Co. (2007), during World War I, the Arcuate design was deemed by the US Government to be decorative only, and prohibited from being stitched into the pockets because items needed for the war effort, including thread, were being rationed. Rather than lose its trademark, the company had the Arcuate hand-painted onto the pockets. CLICK TO READ MORE…..
Sometimes the best alternative to litigating a defense is a settlement and good PR strategy. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reached a settlement with Skechers USA Inc. for $45 million with regard deceptive claims to consumers in advertisement. The claimed violations were prohibited by federal law under the Federal Trade Commission Act and 15 U.S.C §§45 and 52 [see the complaint here]. Skecher’s advertising for its Shape-ups, Resistance Runner, Toner and Tone-ups shoes made unsubstantiated claims of their toning and fitness related capability.
Adidas has an issue with World’s “cut-off-w-lines”
So, let’s see. World Industries’ likely stance on this one will be that their sneaker on the left, “Varsity”, is designed with a visually distinct “W” representing World Industries. It’s just, you know, cut-off. What’s that? You think their “cut-off-w-lines” looks exactly like Adidas’ internationally recognized three-stripe trademark that they’ve used since 1952? Hahaha. I mean, really. All you have to do is look at it! World’s “cut-off-w-lines” have arrows on top, and, and, and the little piece there, yeah, the one curving a little bit, no- not that one, that one!…