7 September 2016Copyright

Harley-Davidson sues online retailer in trademark suit

Motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against online retailer GearLaunch.

Harley-Davidson also brought an action for counterfeiting, trademark dilution, cybersquatting, copyright infringement, and unfair competition.

The suit, filed on August 30 at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Division, claimed GearLaunch had infringed its copyright and trademarks by selling infringing apparel online.

GearLaunch, a California-based company, and its six associated business, Gear Harley, TeeKiwi, TeeFuny, TeeSeason, TeeShop4U Company aka Biker’s Corner and TeeDig, had infringed Harley-Davidson’s ‘Bar & Shield Logo’, ‘Willie G. Skull Logo’, and ‘Number 1 Logo’ trademarks, according to the manufacturer.

The copyright claim concerns the ‘Willie G. Skull Logo’.

GearLaunch registered the domain name, which Harley-Davidson said was done with a “bad-faith intent” to profit from its marks.

Harley-Davidson sent five cease-and-desist demands to the companies, between January and June this year, but they have continued to sell the infringing products, the manufacturer alleged.

“Defendant’s actions … have damaged and irreparably injured and, if permitted to continue, will further damage and injure Harley, Harley’s trademarks, Harley’s reputation and goodwill associated with those marks, Harley’s reputation for high-quality products and services, and the public interest in consumers being free from confusion,” said the suit.

The motorcycle manufacturer is seeking an injunction to stop the companies from using and/or registering the trademarks and registering any confusingly similar domain names, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

It is also seeking an order to destroy all infringing products, an order requiring the companies to transfer the confusingly similar domain names to the company and an order requiring the defendants to pay statutory damages of $2 million per infringement.

Monica Talley, director at law firm Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox, said: “It seems likely the case will succeed. Harley is a strong brand that has taken care in developing and enforcing its trademarks and other intellectual property.

“From its enforcement history, it also appears to have created an effective and multi-faceted brand enforcement strategy, including various non-litigation efforts. For Harley to take this step to me suggests it believed it had a strong case.”

Talley added that she expects to see more of these types of cases in the future, with brands engaging with better and different technologies to detect and monitor infringements.

“Analysts estimate that 25% of global internet commerce today involves counterfeit products, so the problem is really a competitive issue for organisations, and not one that can be ignored.”

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9 January 2017   US-based motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson has sued multinational clothing company Urban Outfitters in a case centring on bodysuits sold by the clothing retailer.
26 April 2017   Northwestern University, Duke University and the University of California are among 25 US educational institutions to have sued online retailer GearLaunch for trademark infringement.
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