Last Friday in Lontex Corp. v. Oakley, Inc., 1:13-cv-05459 (DNJ), Lontex sued Oakley in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey for trademark infringement, counterfeiting and unfair competition relating to Lontex’s federally registered mark, SWEAT IT OUT, for sweatbands, headbands and other athletic apparel. In its complaint, Lontex alleges that Oakley is using the exact mark SWEAT IT OUT for a line of sweat-wicking headbands, and attaches exhibits showing that use on Oakely’s on-line store. Lontex further asserts that it has been using its mark for over 20 years, and that Oakley’s conduct violates federal and state trademark and unfair competition laws.
Coach Services, Inc., of the design house offering handbags, footwear and other luxury goods, recently lost a design mark battle challenging registerability of E&D Trading, Inc.’s (“E&D”) mark for DP in stylized format (the “Challenged Mark”) on the basis that it is likely to cause confusion with Coach’s federally registered “Signature C Design” marks. The parties’ marks both cover eyewear, among other goods. Coach’s protest was lodged with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”), an administrative body that is part of the Trademark Office and has authority to rule on challenges to registerability of marks, among other issues. TTAB proceedings and procedure are governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as well as the detailed rules set forth in the TTAB’s Manual of Procedure (“TBMP”).
Just as design patents for smart phones and yoga pants are recently making headlines, the Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill, S. 3523, entitled the Innovative Design Protection Act of 2012, which would extend copyright-like protection to fashion designs (the “Act”). The protection of the proposed Act would extend to “fashion design[s],” defined as the appearance as a whole of an article of apparel including men’s, women’s or children’s clothing, including undergarments, outer wear, gloves, footwear, headgear, handbags, purses, wallets, tote bags, belts and eyeglass frames. Given that many other countries already have laws that provide design protection for fashion design, the passage of the Act has the potential to help encourage and sustain the U.S. fashion industry.
In Defense of Color Trademarks: INTA Submits Amicus Brief in Christian Louboutin v. Yves Saint Laurent
On Monday, the International Trademark Association (“INTA”) filed an amicus curae brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Christian Louboutin S.A. v. Yves Saint Laurent America Holding, Inc.. In that brief, INTA argued that the lower court’s decision should be vacated and remanded on the basis that the court did not properly evaluate Louboutin’s federally registered trademark, failed to accord that mark the legal presumption of validity to which it is entitled under federal law, and did not use the appropriate test for aesthetic functionality.
As has been widely reported by the mainstream press and most legal publications, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has approved a new “.XXX” top-level domain expected to be utilized by the adult entertainment industry. Given the connotation of the .XXX domain, companies and individuals around the globe are considering how best to protect their trademarks from the potential harms of registry misuse, including cyber squatters targeting this new domain to register well known trademarks. Although the creation of the .XXX domain will be a boon to those in the adult entertainment industry and domain registrars, it raises serious threats of infringement, brand dilution or tarnishing for trademarks uninvolved in those industries. If they have not already, all trademark owners should be considering the potential impact of the .XXX domain to their marks and determining whether to take the necessary steps to “opt-out” of .XXX domain registration by the October 28, 2011 deadline for doing so.
A Challenge to Color Trademarks in the Field of Fashion: Christian Louboutin v. Yves Saint Laurent America
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York’s August 10, 2011 decision in Christian Louboutin S.A. v. Yves Saint Laurent America, Inc., questions whether a single color may serve as a trademark for fashion. That case arises from an action for trademark infringement brought by luxury shoe designer, Christian Louboutin, against Yves Saint Laurent America (“YSL”). Louboutin is well-known for his collection of high end women’s shoes, which have bright red glossy soles. He also owns U.S. Trademark Registration No. 3,361,597 for “a lacquered red sole on footwear.”
Tory Burch LLC (“Tory Burch”), the makers of women’s apparel, designer shoes and fashion accessories, recently obtained a $164 million damages award against forty-one defendants accused of selling counterfeit versions of its products through numerous websites. This decision confers the largest award ever granted to a fashion company in a counterfeiting action.