San Diego Trademark Attorney® Blog

April 2013 Archives

Carpet Company Sued Over Use of "Wild Kingdom" Trademark

April 18, 2013,

leopard-print.jpgSan Diego - Couristan Inc., a carpeting and rug manufacturer based in New Jersey, was sued in Nebraska federal court last week by Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company. The lawsuit involves a recently released line of faux animal skin carpets under the "Wild Kingdom" moniker which Mutual of Omaha believes is likely to cause confusion with its TV series of the same name.

Mutual of Omaha is the owner of U.S. Trademark Registrations for WILD KINGDOM (stylized) for "Entertainment services-namely, a television program dealing with conservation of wildlife" and WILD KINGDOM for "DVDs featuring television show episodes." The program and the DVDs feature the well-known television program which originally aired between January 6, 1963 and 1986, but was picked up again more recently by Animal Planet in 2002. The popular show brought viewers into the natural habitats of wild animals, worked to protect animal rights, and advocated wildlife conservation.

Mutual of Omaha also owns U.S. trademark registrations for WILD KINGDOM for use in relation to t-shirts, stuffed animals, posters and other promotional items.

Mutual of Omaha believes Couristan is infringing on its trademarks and good name and does not want consumers to believe it is associated with Couristan's line of rugs. Consistent with its advocacy to promote wildlife conservation, Mutual of Omaha does not want to "... contribute to the trend of using actual or faux animal skins for purposes of home décor." It has requested that all carpets and rugs bearing the name "Wild Kingdom" be immediately destroyed.

When Mutual of Omaha learned of the line of rugs it sent a cease and desist letter to Couristan but the parties apparently were not able to come to a resolution. Mutual of Omaha believes its reputation will be harmed should Couristan continue to sell and distribute the "Wild Kingdom" line.

In the complaint, Mutual of Omaha accuses Couristan of unfair competition, trademark infringement, dilution of its trademark, and violation of the Nebraska Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Mutual of Omaha also requests damages due to the alleged infringement including damages for dilution, and recovery of any profits that Couristan has obtained from sales in the U.S. and abroad.

Disney Wins Dismissal in Feud Over TINKERBELL Trademark

April 2, 2013,

disney.jpgSan Diego - A 3-way dispute over the rights to use TINKERBELL as a trademark for cosmetics ended when a panel of three judges determined that Icebox-Scoops, Inc., a Dutch company, could not maintain a lawsuit against Walt Disney Co.

Icebox-Scoops licensed the TINKERBELL trademark in 2005 from Finanz St. HonoreBV, a Netherlands based company. Finanz filed a U.S. Trademark for the TINKERBELL trademark in 1982 for "Children's Cosmetics-Namely, Cologne, Bath Oil, Body Lotion, Body Powder, Bubble Bath, Skin Cream and Sachet" and the trademark registered in 1983.

In 2000, Finanz's rights to the TINKERBELL trademark were affirmed in litigation with Disney. Disney had tried to obtain the trademark due to the well-known character from its "Peter Pan" movie. Disney did not prevail in that case which ended with the two companies entering into a Settlement Agreement.

Thereafter, Finanz entered into the licensing agreement with Icebox-Scoops to create TINKERBELL merchandise. Specifically, Icebox-Scoops was to distribute a TINKERBELL line of beauty products geared toward young women.

However, shortly after entering into the license agreement with Icebox-Scoops, Franz decided to sell the trademark to Disney which cut off Icebox-Scoops's right to use the trademark well before the 5 year license had ended.

As a result of the termination of the license, Icebox-Scoops sued Disney for unjust enrichment and tortious interference. Icebox-Scoops believed that Disney should not have bought the TINKERBELL trademark from Finanz if Disney knew that the license agreement was in place at the time of the purchase. Unfortunately for Icebox-Scoops, Disney disagreed, and so apparently did the 2nd Circuit Court.

The 2nd Circuit held that Icebox-Scoops did nothing to enrich Disney and also did nothing for Disney's benefit and therefore the 2nd Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the unjust enrichment claim. As for the tortious interference claim, the 2nd Circuit held that it was made after the statute of limitations was up and so it also could not be maintained.

Though the case against Disney has been dismissed, Icebox-Scoops' case against Finanz is ongoing. Thus far the two have not been able to reach a settlement.