California Trademark Attorney® Blog

May 2012 Archives

Nike Sued for Trademark Infringement Over "Lottery Pick"

May 17, 2012,

basketball.jpgCalifornia - A term synonymous with the National Basketball Association is at the center of a trademark infringement complaint against Nike. Urban Motive Sportswear has filed a lawsuit against the sportswear giant for allegedly violating its "Lottery Pick" trademark after Nike used it on a Michael Jordan jacket.

In its trademark infringement complaint, filed in a United States district court in Illinois, Urban Motive Sportswear is alleging that Nike outright stole its trademark by using it on a jacket for sale called the Jordan LS Lottery Pick Jacket. The company registered the term "Lottery Pick" with the United States Patent and Trademark Office back in 2006. The company also claims that it has been selling sports apparel, an energy drink, and other merchandise with the trademark for years.

According to Urban Motive Sportswear, Nike's alleged infringement is particularly harmful to its business since it has done most of its marketing in Chicago, the town where Michael Jordan played out most of his NBA career with the Bulls and where it claims confusion has been created among consumers. The company also contends that it provided Jordan's sons with free sportswear.

In official court documents, Urban Motive Sportswear wrote that Nike's infringement on its trademark has "damaged us in a manner that cannot fully be measured or compensated in economic terms and for which there is not adequate remedy at law."

In the NBA, fourteen teams participate in the Draft Lottery, which is weighted so that the team with the worst record will have the best chance to secure a higher draft pick. The term "lottery pick" is a draft pick whose position is determined through the lottery, while the non-playoff teams involved in the process are often called "lottery teams."

Nike, which refused to comment on the pending litigation, is being sued for unspecified monetary damages.

Michael Jordan, otherwise known as "His Airness", was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The former player, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, has been credited by many as being the greatest professional basketball player of all time. Having led the Chicago Bulls to six national championships, Jordan has been one of the most effectively marketed athletes and was considered responsible for popularizing the NBA on a global level in the 1980's and 1990's.

Denim Debacle: Vanity Files Against Levi Strauss in Trademark Claim

May 8, 2012,

jeans.jpgCalifornia - A denim retailer based in Fargo, North Dakota is asking a federal judge to settle a trademark infringement dispute it is currently in with Levi Strauss & Company.

According to court documents filed in a Grand Forks U.S. District Court, the dispute began at the beginning of the year when Levi Strauss sent a cease and desist letter to the Fargo-based Vanity, claiming the pocket design on the retailer's jeans was "confusingly similar" to Levi's brand of jeans.

Vanity responded to the letter by filing for declaratory relief against the denim giant stating that the "V" design on the back of its jeans is "visually distinctive" from Levi's jeans and that "Levi Strauss does not have the right to prevent Vanity from using a stylized version of the letter 'V' in connection with its pocket designs." The lesser-known retailer also indicated in its complaint its apprehension of being sued by Levi Strauss and that it hopes to avoid such legal action by settling the trademark infringement claims.

Vanity claims that it has been using the "V" design in its trademark since the mid 1950's.

However, in the cease and desist letter to Vanity, trademark attorneys for Levi Strauss assert that the similarity in the pocket designs "will create a substantial likelihood of customer confusion as to the source of Vanity jeans."

As a result, Vanity is seeking an order from a federal judge declaring that its pocket designs are not confusingly similar to the Levi's brand. Additionally, Vanity is requesting that the judge issue an order precluding Levi Strauss from suing Vanity for trademark infringement.

Levi Strauss is no stranger to protecting its intellectual property. The company, founded in 1853, has reportedly sued more than thirty other retailers for trademark infringement over the past five years. In a more notable case, a judge ruled against Strauss after it claimed Abercrombie & Fitch had allegedly violated its trademarks.

Vanity is a mall-based clothing chain, selling young women's apparel and accessories. By 2009, the company had expanded its distribution through its website,, and had grown to nearly two hundred stores located across the country.

Fiat Registers 4C Trademark with USPTO, Signaling a Return to America

May 1, 2012,

speedometer-fiat.jpgCalifornia - There is a reason to celebrate for Italian sports car Alfa Romeo fanatics in the United States. According to a report posted by Automotive News, Fiat's Alfa Romeo division registered the trademark in the U.S. for its brand of 4C sports cars.

The trademark registration comes after Alfa Romeo's twenty-year absence in the United States. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed in a recent press release that the rear-wheel drive sports coupe will be available to American drivers by the end of 2013. In May of next year, Italy-based Maserati will reportedly begin building the Alfa Romeo 4C in its Modena manufacturing plant, where its flagship Gran Turismo coupe and convertible models are scheduled for production.

The trademark, issued with the United States Patent and Trademark Office April 10th, will cover the 4C car line, as well as Alfa Romeo-related clothing and accessories.

Initially, Fiat said that it will only build about 2,500 of the sports coupes per year. Although its reported asking price will be in the neighborhood of $65,000, the low rate of production could create a high demand for the Italian luxury car. The demand for the car in the Unites States could very well push the price up even higher.

Marchionne stated that Fiat plans to market the 4C as a luxury brand, competing with Germany sports car BMW, the industry leader.

"The return of Alfa in the U.S. is critical for the group as a global player needs to have an upscale brand in a major market as North America," said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC in Troy, Michigan. "This is a real sign Alfa will come back to U.S.," he added.

The 4C will be a rear-wheel drive mid-engine design and will be powered by a 1.7 liter, direct-injected turbo four-cylinder engine used in various cars from the Fiat line, if the assembly model gets the same engine as the concept car. Power for the turbo-charged engine could reach 250 horsepower at time of production, and should produce sub-five-second 0-to-60 mph speed times, putting it in the class of a true sports car.