Articles Posted in Trade Dress

copyright-preliminary-injunction-jewelry-rings-scott-kay-tacori.jpgTacori suffered another loss in its continuing copyright and trade dress infringement lawsuit against rival jewelry designer Scott Kay. The Court previously denied Tacori’s ex-parte application for a temporary restraining order, but that did not deter Tacori’s attempts to prevent Scott Kay’s sales of its Heaven’s Gate jewelry collection. Not surprisingly, the Court denied Tacori’s preliminary injunction bid, which was now focused solely on the copyright issue.

“A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest.” Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, 129 S. Ct. 365, 374 (2008). Although a plaintiff must make a showing on each factor, the Ninth Circuit employs a sliding scale approach where “a stronger showing of one element may offset a weaker showing of another.” Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1131-35 (9th Cir. 2011). Thus, a preliminary injunction may still issue where there are “serious questions going to the merits and a balance of hardships that tips sharply towards the plaintiff . . . , so long as the plaintiff also shows that there is a likelihood of irreparable injury and that the injunction is in the public interest.” Id. at 1135 (internal quotation marks omitted).

The Court found that Tacori may be able to meet “its low burden of establishing copyright ownership” because the “requisite level of creativity is extremely low.” In order to show copying, Tacori had to establish Scott Kay’s access to its reverse crescent design and that the Heaven’s Gates rings were substantially similar. Scott Kay admitted that it was aware of Tacori’s design, but the Court found that the parties’ respective designs were not substantially similar.

Los Angeles, CA – Jeffrey Campbell is taking an aggressive approach to protecting its shoe designs by recently suing Forever 21 for allegedly copying six of its shoe designs. Last week, Jeffrey Campbell filed a new design patent and trade dress infringement and unfair competition lawsuit against Steve Madden for allegedly copying Jeffrey Campbell’s “Lita” shoe design. Although Jeffrey Campbell did not have any patents for the six shoe designs in the Forever 21 lawsuit, it was granted Patent No. D634,532 for the Lita shoe design. Having a design patent provides greater protection for fashion designs than trade dress alone and the causes of action can always be combined, as Jeffrey Campbell has done here. Campbell claims that Steve Madden’s $169.95 Carnby-L shoe design “is believed to be a copy or knockoff of Jeffry Campbell’s Lita Shoe design.” Steve Madden is no stranger to trademark lawsuits involving shoes, having previously settled with Asics for allegedly copying its stripe design.

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The patent provides another advantage by keeping copycats away while the product’s configuration attains secondary meaning in the consumers’ minds. Plaintiff contends that since “the release of the Lita Shoe by Jeffrey Campbell in or about the summer of 2010, the internet has been ablaze with, and blogs have raved about,” the shoe design. The significant publicity and promotion of the Lita shoe design has allegedly led to significant sales and acclaim, and widespread public recognition of the Lita Shoe Trade Dress, which is defined as:
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Los Angeles, CA – Following the trend of fashion designers filing trade dress infringement lawsuits to protect designs not covered by copyright law, Jeffrey Campbell is suing Forever 21 for allegedly copying six shoe designs. Like Givenchy v. BCBG and Marc Jacobs v. Christian Audigier before it, Jeffrey Campbell is forced to use trade dress law to protect its designs because copyright law views fashion products, for example pursues and shoes, as useful articles that cannot be copyrighted. Unlike UGG, however, many fashion designers are unaware that fashion designs can be protected through design patents, which must be filed within one year of the design’s public disclosure. Without a design patent, Jeffrey Campbell must now attempt the tougher climb of proving trade dress infringement.

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Jeffrey Campbell claims that its shoe designs “have become the footwear brand to know in the United States” over the last ten years and that customers, based on extensive marketing and advertising, recognize the shoe designs as Jeffrey Campbell’s trade dress. Plaintiff contends that Forever 21, “having a business model that . . . focuses on selling knockoffs or cheaper copies of products designed by higher-end fashion companies,” has intentionally copied the Cast Sandal, 99 Boot, Splendid Sandal, City Wrap Boot, Alicia Fur Boot, and Swansong Sandal. Jeffrey Campbell also asserts that Forever 21’s intentional copying violates federal and state unfair competition laws. The amount of monetary damages are currently unknown to Plaintiff, but it is also seeking a permanent injunction to prevent Forever 21’s future sales of the shoe designs.

The case is Jeffrey Campbell LLC v. Forever 21, Inc., CV11-04619 SJO (C.D. Cal. 2011).

tacori-crescent-copyright-trade-dress-tro-jewelry-temporary-restraining-order.pngLos Angeles, CA – Tacori Enterprises sued Scott Kay for copyright and trade dress infringement over sales of jewelry incorporating a repeating crescent design. Tacori filed an ex parte application for a temporary restraining order to prevent further sales of Scott Kay’s Heaven’s Gate Collection that allegedly infringes Tacori’s purported copyrights and trade dress.

Although the Court found that Tacori is likely – because of the “extremely low burden” – to establish copyright ownership, Tacori had not shown that “it is likely to pass either the extrinsic or intrinsic test” to prove infringement. The extrinsic test “requires a court to examine the similarities between the copyrighted and challenged works and then determine whether the similar elements are protectable or unprotectable.” “The intrinsic test is a subjective comparison that focuses on whether the ordinary, reasonable audience would find the works substantially similar in the total concept and feel of the works.”

The Court relied on Scott Kay’s submission of third-party evidence having similar elements of the crescent design at issue to find that many of the design elements were likely not protectable. As for the intrinsic test, the Court found it unlikely that a reasonable audience for the rings “would find them substantially similar in total concept and feel in light of their differences.”

wine-trademark-attorney-bottle-label-san-antonio-banfi.jpgLos Angeles, CA – San Antonio Winery filed a trademark and trade dress declaratory judgment action against Banfi Products. San Antonio’s Stella Rosa Imperiale Brachetto d’Acqui wine is made from Brachetto grapes that are sourced from the D.O.C.G. region of Brachetto d’Acqui. San Antonio has registered its Stella Rosa design trademark with the USPTO. Banfi’s Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui wine is also made from Brachetto grapes sourced from the same region.

Banfi’s cease and desist letter to San Antonio allegedly contended that Banfi had protectable rights in the “combination of the label design and placement, the color scheme, the bottle shape and color, and the wording on Banfi’s product is distinctive or has acquired distinctiveness through secondary meaning such that the designated combination of elements constitutes protectable trade dress and that the designated trade dress is not functional.”

San Antonio disagrees and seeks the Court’s ruling that its wine bottle “does not infringing any valid, enforceable trademark or trade dress rights of Banfi under any provisions of the Lanham Act or constitute unfair competition under any state unfair competition laws.” The case is San Antonio Winery, Inc. v. Banfi Products Corporation, CV10-9245 MMM (C.D. Cal. 2010).

Los Angeles, CA – Givenchy, the luxury merchandise manufacturer, seems to be jumping on the trade dress bandwagon (see here and here) to prevent copying of its purse design. Instead of protecting its purse design with a design patent, Givenchy claims that its Nightingale Trade Dress “includes without limitation a removable strap, two double seemed handles, a flat bottom and decorative double stitched horizontal and vertical stripes on the exterior that visually separate the bag into four distinct quadrants.” Givenchy is going to have to show that the consuming public recognizes the trade dress as identifying the source of the purse. Givenchy claims that it has earned in excess of fifty (50) million dollars in revenue from the sale of the Nightingale handbags and that the public recognizes the trade dress.

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BCBG is accused of trying to profit from Givenchy’s goodwill by selling “its knock-off ‘Rembrandt’ and other handbags that deliberately copy, line-by-line and stitch-by-stitch distinctive, non-functional elements of Givenchy’s Nightingale Trade Dress.” In addition to monetary damages, Givenchy seeks an injunction prohibiting further sales of BCBG’s handbags. The case is Givenchy S.A. v. BCBG Max Azria Group, Inc. CV10-8394 (C.D. Cal. 2010).

trademark-attorney-major-league-baseball-sues-upper-deck-infringement-contract-license.pngNew York — Upper Deck will reportedly pay MLB a “substantial sum” in addition to $2.4 million to settle the trademark infringement and breach of contract lawsuit, according to Reuters. On January 31, 2010, Major League Baseball Properties sued the Upper Deck Company for trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition, and breach of contract because Upper Deck continued to print baseball trading cards after its license was terminated. Details blogged here.

It appears that Upper Deck learned from its long and drawn out court battle with Konami. Only after the California District Court ruled that Upper Deck counterfeited hundreds of thousands of Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards, did Upper Deck decide to settle on the first day of trial. Details here. Conversely, by settling early with MLB, Upper Deck can avoid possible adverse rulings and focus on reviving its business.

The case is Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. v. The Upper Deck Company, LLC, 10-cv-732-RWS (SDNY 2010).

trade-dress-infringement-lawsuit-type-65-coupe-factory-five-kit-carroll-shelby.jpgCar racing legend Carroll Shelby sued Factory Five Racing in California last year for trademark and trade dress infringement (details here). The District Court in Los Angeles granted Factory Five’s motion and transferred the case to Massachusetts (details here and here). The Massachusetts District Court has now dismissed Shelby’s Daytona Coupe trade dress action with prejudice (it cannot be re-filed) and has dismissed the rest of the complaint without prejudice. The Court, however, declined to dismiss Shelby’s lawsuit against co-defendant Internet Community Partners, LLC – doing business as ffcobra.com. (Order is available here).

With respect to the Daytona Coup trade dress infringement claim, the Court held that it was barred by doctrine of res judicata and the terms of the settlement agreement:

In this case, the settlement agreement resolved the Type 65 trade dress claims and did not bar FFR from using the Type 65 kits, which have apparently not broadened or changed in the intervening years. Under the settlement agreement, “Shelby dismisse[d] with prejudice all claims that have been asserted or could have been asserted relative to the trade dress or designs of FFR’s kits, including but not limited to the kits known as the 427 Roadster and the Type 65 Coupe.” (FFR’s Mem., Ex. B ¶ 9 (emphasis added).) Shelby’s argument that the first suit only involved the 427 S/C contradicts the plain language of the settlement, which dismissed all claims “relative to the trade dress or designs of FFR’s kits” involving Factory Five’s Type 65 Coupe, not merely those relating to the trade dress of the 427 S/C. Moreover, the Final Judgment included numerous, specific references to both the name and design of the Daytona Coupe.

trademark-trade-dress-attorney-tote-bags-marc-jacobs-ed-hardy.jpgLos Angeles, CA – Designer Christian Audigier’s Nervous Tattoo, Inc. is being sued by Marc Jacobs’ company for trade dress and trademark infringement over purse designs. Marc Jacobs designs apparel and accessories, including purses, and has a pending application for its random “Marc Jacobs” scrambled trademark. Marc Jacobs has applied the scrambled trademark to the inside lining of the “Marc Jacobs Pretty Nylon” tote bag. And the tote bag’s “size, shape, color or color combinations, product design, texture, and selection and arrangement of materials and accessories” are claimed to serve as its trade dress.

Plaintiffs accuse Defendants of selling tote bags that “bear trade dress that unlawfully copies or imitates Plaintiffs’ unique, distinctive, and non-functional Marc Jacobs Pretty Nylon Tote Trade Dress and/or that unlawfully bear marks confusingly similar to the Marc Jacobs Scrambled Trademark.” In addition, Plaintiffs assert claims for unfair competition under Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 and constructive trust.

Since the parties’ products apparently bear their respective trademarks, it will be interesting to see if customers are confused about the source of the products. See Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. McNeil-P.P.C., Inc., 973 F.2d 1033, 1045-46 (2nd Cir. 1992) (holding that prominently displayed trade names on the respective products “weigh[ed] heavily against a finding of consumer confusion resulting from the overall look of the packaging”) (preliminary injunction denied).

boot-design-patent-attorney-cardy-ugg-shoe.jpgLos Angeles, CA – UGG® boot manufacturer, Deckers Outdoor, filed a patent infringement and unfair competition lawsuit against Claire’s Stores and CBI Distributing. UGG® boots have set a fashion trend with young ladies wearing the lamb-skinned boots – to keep their feet and calves warm – with shorts, thereby allowing their knees and thighs to freeze. That’s not in the complaint, it’s just a personal observation. Now back to the regularly scheduled complaint: the UGG® line of boots includes the Classic Cardy™, which was introduced in 2007 and has a crochet upper with buttons on the lateral side. The Classic Cardy™ boot is the subject of U.S. Design Patent No. D582,650 (“the ‘650 Patent”).

Deckers alleges that Defendants sell allegedly infringing boots under the “Claire’s Botts” mark at significantly lower price points, thereby diminishing the market place for the genuine Cardy Boots™. Plaintiff’s Lanham Act claim derives from the alleged sales of infringing boots creating a false association or affiliation with Deckers’ UGG® line of boots.

It’s unclear from the complaint whether Plaintiff is asserting a trade dress infringement claim, but at least they obtained a design patent for the boot – which is not a work protectable by copyright. By doing so, they avoid some costs and expenses in having to conduct surveys to establish trade dress rights and, further, a likelihood of confusion among consumers. The following Federal Circuit opinion provides a great comparison of the level of proof needed for each: