21 December 2017Trademarks

The North Face sues potential rival over mountain trademark

Outdoor clothing maker The North Face has accused a potential rival of trademark infringement.

The North Face filed its claim (pdf) at the US District Court for the District of Delaware on Tuesday, December 19.

Founded 43 years ago in Northern California, The North Face now sells outdoor apparel and equipment worldwide.

In 2000, The North Face adopted the “Summit Series” design mark, which “consists of a broken circle surrounding a highly stylised mountain peak, all formed by a single unbroken black line contrasted against the negative space”.

The North Face’s mark covers footwear in class 25, under US number 3,418,103; and backpacks in class 18, sleeping bags in class 20, tents in class 22, and clothing in class 25, under US number 3,373,851.

The clothing maker has also used the mark in conjunction with the word “Summit Series” and owns trademarks for this.

“As a result of The North Face’s use and extensive and continuous efforts promoting the Summit Series marks, consumers have come to recognise the Summit Series marks as uniquely associated with The North Face and an indication of origin in The North Face,” said the claim.

According to the lawsuit, in March this year, the outdoor sporting retailer Gander Mountain filed for bankruptcy.

The North Face said that CWGS Group acquired Gander Mountain’s IP rights, inventory and operating systems, and is in the process of re-launching Gander Mountain’s retail operations which will be re-branded to Gander Outdoors.

To select a new logo, CWGS Group ran a contest to solicit potential logo designs.

In June, the company selected a logo which, according to The North Face, consists of a “circle surrounding a stylised mountain peak, formed by two disconnected lines protruding from the circle into its centre”.

The North Face claimed that the design is extremely similar.

“In both designs, the lines forming the stylised mountain peaks appear to protrude from the circle at virtually the same point and angle, making both the negative and positive spaces in each design highly similar,” it claimed.

The North Face contacted CWGS Group in August with its concerns. CWGS Group allegedly replied with a statement that consumer confusion was unlikely.

The North Face is seeking a permanent injunction against CWGS Group, triple damages, profits and any other relief that the court may deem appropriate to prevent the public from deriving any erroneous impression that any products are authorised by The North Face.

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