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Pockets Full of Trouble

By Sara Alexandre [November 29th, 2012] 

Pockets Full of Problems

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…..

Should anyone doubt it, the same tenacious vigor with which Levi defended its trademark during the early 20th century is still alive and well during modern times, as is evidenced by the 30 trademark infringement lawsuits Levi has initiated in the past five years alone.

No wonder Vanity, a Fargo-based retailer, selling jeans with “V”-ish designs got hit with a cease and desist letter from Levi’s early this year. According to the court documents filed in Grand Forks U.S. District Court, Levi claims that the “V” design on Vanity’s pocket (left), was “confusingly similar” to Levi’s (right), and would cause “…a substantial likelihood of customer confusion as to the source of Vanity jeans.”

Vanity responded to the letter by filing for declaratory relief against the denim giant stating that the “V” design on the back of its jeans is “visually distinctive” from Levi’s jeans and that “Levi Strauss does not have the right to prevent Vanity from using a stylized version of the letter ‘V’ in connection with its pocket designs.” Although Vanity is doing pretty well for itself, expanding to nearly 200 stores across the country, and claims to have used “V” design in its trademark since the mid 1950’s, it doesn’t seem too keen on going head-to-head with Levi in court. In its complaint, Vanity expressed its hopes to avoid legal action by settling the trademark infringement claims.

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