4 June 2018Trademarks

Virginia Tourism Agency fires TM suit at gun manufacturer

A tourism agency in the US has taken on a gun parts and accessories retailer, alleging trademark infringement over an altered version of its “Virginia is for Lovers” slogan.

The Virginia Tourism Agency, which does business as the Virginia Tourism Corporation ( VTC), filed a trademark infringement complaint against Recovered Gold on Wednesday, May 30 at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division.

The agency has taken aim at Recovered Gold’s use of the term ‘Virginia is for Gun Lovers’.

According to the VTC, Virginia has used the common law mark ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ to promote travel and tourism since 1969.

The common law mark has been licensed to distributors to be used on apparel and merchandise. Fees from the licence deals have been used to benefit the citizens of Virginia, according to the suit.

“The common law mark is inherently distinctive to denote travel to and affinity for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said the VTC.

In December 2003, the US Patent and Trademark Office registered the VTC’s trademark ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ with a heart next to the word ‘Virginia’. Goods and services for the trademark come under class 25, for clothing.

The VTC has successfully applied for different variations of the trademark since 2003, including the words ‘Welcome to Virginia’ next to a heart and the words ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ underneath. The letter ‘v’ in ‘Lovers’ is replaced by a heart.

According to the claim, Recovered Gold “has used and continued to use the term ‘Virginia is for Gun Lovers’ on its website and Facebook page and in connection with the sale of various merchandise” without consent.

The VTC said that it has repeatedly demanded that Recovered Gold stop using the allegedly infringing mark, but with no success.

Recovered Gold’s activities have allegedly deceived and caused confusion among the relevant purchasing public, said the VTC.

“It is likely that the purchasing public will believe that Recovered Gold’s products are connected, associated or affiliated in some way with the Commonwealth of Virginia and/or VTC, when in fact no such connection, association of affiliation exists,” it said.

The VTC is seeking an enjoinment and triple damages.

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