Articles Posted in Trade Dress

Los Angeles, CA – Purse and handbag designer Linea Pelle, Inc. filed a trade dress infringement and unfair competition lawsuit against Sabina Handbags & Accessories, Inc. In 2006, Plaintiff alleges that it created the “Dylan Collection” of handbags that “incorporates certain unique and distinctive designs, ornamentation and embellishments that, as a whole, have become the iconic and signature look of the Dylan Collection,” which it defines as follows:

trade-dress-attorney-trade-dress-lawyer-purse-handbag-linea-pelle.jpgSound like a square peg in a round hole? Assuming Plaintiff can establish secondary meaning before the infringement began, the definition sounds like a constrained extension of trade dress law. Why not seek design patent protection and avoid the challenges of establishing trade dress rights? But I digress. Plaintiff’s purse incorporating the alleged trade dress is pictured below.

trade-dress-purse-handbag-linea-pelle.jpgDefendant’s accused product is pictured below.

PRACTICE NOTE: It would have been interesting to see how the Court would have ruled on a motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s trade dress claim. Unfortunately, it was not part of Defendant’s motion. (Read BNA article regarding the viability of website trade dress claims).

Los Angeles, CA – sued rival website based legal document preparation company, Inc. for copyright infringement, trade dress infringement, and state unfair competition (details blogged here). Defendant moved to dismiss the copyright infringement claim and the § 17200 unfair competition claim (“UCL”) because Plaintiff did not have a copyright registration and had failed to plead an injury in fact. Further, Defendant moved to strike Plaintiff’s demand for statutory damages and attorneys’ fees under the copyright act (17 U.S.C. § 412). Order available here.


Los Angeles, CA – EABO, Inc. sued Huntington Beach, CA based Mimic Skateboards, Inc. for copyright infringement, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, trade dress infringement and unfair competition. Plaintiff manufactures various sized disc shaped wooden boards that rest upon a cylinder shaped roller, which were originally designed by surfers for training purposes. The IndoBoard has now evolved into its own sport where individuals stand on the board and rock it back and forth to balance on the roller and perform various tricks. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then moving pictures are priceless:

Plaintiff is the exclusive licensee of a registered Indo Board design trademark and the common law rights to the word mark. Plaintiff is also the copyright owner in an instructional DVD created in 2004. The complaint alleges that beginning in 2001, Plaintiff entered into a manufacturing agreement with Mimic to manufacture its boards, which relationship terminated in 2008 when Mimic informed Plaintiff that it was going to only manufacture skateboards.

trademark-attorney-tommys-original-hamburgers.jpgLos Angeles, CA – Tomdan Enterprises, Inc., which does business under the more recognizable “Tommy’s Original World Famous Hamburgers” name and trademark, filed a trademark and trade dress infringement, Lanham Act unfair competition, and trade secret misappropriation lawsuit against Tommy’s Original Chili Factory, Inc., and several individual defendants. Plaintiff has been in the restaurant business for the last fifty years, serving up hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and – my favorite – chili cheese fries, among other food items. Plaintiff alleges that it adopted the Tommy’s trademark in 1960 and registered the trademark with the California Secretary of State in 1978.

Plaintiff’s burgers and dogs are always served with chili, except when a patron specifically requests it be excluded. I have heard that consumption of a Tommy’s burger with a side of chili-cheese fries in the wee hours of the morning, after a night of libations with college friends, are warranted to reduce any morning-after negative side-effects. A side of extra pickles is believed to further suppress any hang-over symptoms. For those not familiar with the structure of a Tommy’s cheese burger, an element by element depiction is provided herein.


Plaintiff alleges that Defendants were aware of Plaintiff’s Tommy’s mark and trade dress, but adopted a mark, logo, and trade dress that are confusingly similar to Plaintiff’s. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have misappropriated Plaintiffs proprietary and trade secret information in the form of its recipes, including, but not limited to, its chili. Plaintiff allegedly sent a cease and desist letter – through counsel – to Defendants in December of 2008. But Defendants have allegedly refused to stop their activities. The case is Tomdan Enterprises, Inc. v. Tommy’s Original Chili Factory, Inc. et al., CV 09-3960 JSL (C.D. Cal. 2009).

trademark-attorney-jeans-pocket-trade-dress-hudson.jpgLos Angeles, CA – Hudson Clothing,LLC filed a trade dress, Lanham Act § 43(a) trademark infringement, and false advertising complaint against BVDK Design, Inc. Plaintiff designs high end denim jeans and alleges that, since 2002, it has used a distinctive back pocket flap design trademark, which it also claims functions as its trade dress. Plaintiff contends it occupies the “premium” denim market, which means – prepare yourself – jeans in excess of $150 a pair. “This market attracts consumers focused on value, style, fit and comfort.”

Plaintiff alleges that BVDK’s jeans, in contrast, lack the reputation and quality that Hudson’s jeans enjoy. But in order to penetrate the premium denim market, defendant is accused of intentionally adopting and using a confusingly similar pocket flap. David Kahn, the owner of BVDK, is also named in the suit and is accused of selling the purportedly infringing jeans on the website. Plaintiff also learned that Defendants’ products, which are sold as the “Nikki” style, was available at the same retailer, Nordstrom. Although there is a false advertising cause of action, Plaintiff does not detail the allegedly false statements that were made with respect to the quality of the products. The case is Hudson Cothing, LLC v. BVDJ Design, Inc., CV 09-3275 R (C.D. Cal. 2009).

Los Angeles, CA – Manley Toys Ltd filed a trademark and trade dress infringement lawsuit against Radco Ltd in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Los Angeles Division). Manley designs and manufactures a variety of toys including the inflatable waterslide toys that are the subject of the lawsuit. Manley is no stranger to trade dress lawsuits involving waterslides, being previously sued by Wham-O (details here).

trademark-attorney-toys-trade-dress-manley-waterslide-radco.jpgFour years ago, Manley created and sold a waterslide toy under the trademark “The Plunge,” which it alleges has been highly successful. The complaint also contends that Manley has “adopted a distinctive color scheme and appearance for its product which, taken together, form a protectable trade dress for The Plunge product.” The product is also marketed and sold under Manley’s Banzai trademark.

Manley alleges that Radco’s use of the mark “Pipeline Plunge” infringes its trademarks and that it was adopted in bad faith, “Defendants’ use of the term Pipeline in the name Pipeline Plunge is a transparent attempt to associate Defendants’ water slide with Plaintiff’s well-known Banzai brand by reference to the notorious and famous ‘Banzai Pipeline’ surf area off the north shore of Hawaii’s Oahu Island.” Defendants will probably argue that you’d have to, at the very least, be a Kamaaina to make that connection. Manley also claims that Defendants have used a color scheme “that is to all intents and purposes identical to Plaintiff’s The Plunge toy.” The case is Manley Toys Ltd v. Radco Ltd HK, et al., CV09-3129 VBF (C.D. Cal. 2009).

hair-care-products-trademark-toppik-megathik-lawsuit.jpgLos Angeles, CA – Spencer Forrest sells hair products for balding men and women, which includes the Toppik® product lines and the Xfusion® Keratin Hair Fibers products. Plaintiff claims it has trade dress protection in its product packaging, which trade dress is defined as having “a distinctive white product name on a dark brown cylindrical container about 4 ¾” in height and about 1 11/16″ in diameter, with white lettering and narrow colored band at the bottom of the cap, which features separately and together serve to uniquely identify that Plaintiff’s said products sold in that Trade Dress are from a single source.” Assuming that the features can “separately” function as the product’s trade dress, the defendant’s product does not appear to incorporate the alleged color scheme, both in the script and product’s package color.

Plaintiff’s trademark infringement claim is based on Defendant’s imbedding into meta tags and other uses of the Toppik® mark on Defendant’s website. The use of Plaintiff’s trademark is alleged to surreptitiously drive traffic to Defendant’s website, which increases sales for Defendant’s products. The case is Spencer Forrest, Inc. v. Megathik, Inc., CV09-1876 PSG (C.D. Cal. 2009).

Los Angeles, CA – sued rival website based legal document preparation company, Inc. for copyright infringement, trade dress infringement, and state unfair competition. Legaljiffy’s website has provided self-help legal documents since 2008 and is attorney-owned and operated. Defendant allegedly began its website in December of 2005, but has recently changed the look and feel of its website by copying “Legaljiffy’s website, both in look, feel and by content.” Defendant is alleged to have modified its website after Plaintiff declined to enter into a partnership, which partnership offer was intended to add an attorney to Defendant’s ownership group.

PRACTICE NOTE: It would have been interesting to see how the Court would have ruled on a motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s trade dress claim. Unfortunately, it was not part of Defendant’s motion. (Read BNA article regarding the viability of website trade dress claims).


mexico-trademark-attorney-lawsuit-camaronazo.jpgRiverside, CA – Vista Del Mar Food & Beverages, LLC filed a Lanham Act § 43(a) trade dress infringement, false advertising, and unfair competition lawsuit at the Federal District Court in Riverside. Vista has sold a shrimp tomato cocktail juice under the Camaronzazo trademark since 2006 and uses a label with “images of a glass of the juice surrounded by shrimp against a backdrop of ocean, sky and clouds.”

In 2009, Vista became aware that Defendants were selling Clamato brand shrimp tomato cocktail juice with an allegedly similar design and label. Vista also complains that Defendants’ label has the words “The Original” prominently placed thereon. Vista alleges that Defendants’ representatives informed Vista that the Camaronazo was a great idea, and subsequently began selling Defendants’ product in 2008. As a result, Vista claims that “The Original” statement on Defendants’ label “is false and misleading because Defendants’ product is not the original or the first shrimp tomato cocktail juice.” The case is titled Vista Del Mar Food & Beverages, LLC v. Compania Exportadora De Aguas Minerales, S.A. De C.V. and Distribuidora Anahuac, S.A. De C.V., EDCV 09-217 SGL (C.D. Cal. 2009).

Los Angeles, CA – In response to Carroll Shelby’s trademark lawsuit (details blogged here), Factory Five Racing’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss and set out Factory Five’s version of events, because this isn’t the first lap around the track between the parties. Eight years ago, Shelby sued Factory Five in the District of Massachusetts over the sale of replica kits of the 427 Roadster and Type 65 Coupe. The Massachusetts case settled with an entry of a consent judgment and injunction, wherein Shelby dismissed his claims of trade dress infringement with prejudice with respect to Factory Five’s kit cars, including the 427 Roadster and Type 65 Coupe and Factory Five agreed to refrain from using certain word trademarks. In addition, to avoid future litigation based on trivial alleged violations, the consent judgment contained a thirty-day cure provision after receiving written notice of any alleged violation.

factory-five-carroll-shelby-lawsuit-trade-dress-daytona-cobra.jpgAfter the Factory Five lawsuit, Shelby sued another party, Superformance International, in Massachusetts asserting the Cobra trade dress. Unfortunately for Shelby, he lost on summary judgment and the court found that Shelby did not have any trade dress rights in the Cobra vehicle design.

Similarly, Factory Five’s motion first requests dismissal under the doctrine of res judicata, i.e. the matter has already been judged and cannot be relitigated, because the trade dress claims were dismissed with prejudice. Langton v. Hogan, 71 F.3d 930, 935 (1st Cir. 1995) (“A judgment that is entered with prejudice under the terms of a settlement, whether by stipulated dismissal, a consent judgment, or a confession of judgment, is not subject to collateral attack by a party or a person in privity, and it bars a second suit on the same claim or cause of action.”)