Thursday, April 10, 2008

A JUICY trademark dispute

On April 4, 2008, Juicy Couture, Inc., the owner of several trademark registrations on the mark JUICY and other variations, filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Lime Blue, LLC (“Lime Blue”), the owner of the website, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. See Juicy Couture, Inc. v. Lime Blue, LLC, Case No. 08-cv-3376 (S.D.N.Y. April 4, 2008).

Why would a clothing company known for its terrycloth sweatsuits and “hoodies” be suing a college campus gossip website for trademark infringement? Because Lime Blue, as part of its efforts to promote its website, was also selling T-shirts and hoodies with the ornamentation “Juicycampus.” And that’s what we call in the trademark world– likely to cause confusion.

While other news outlets ran stories about the lawsuit (see, e.g., here), first prize has to go to Sarah Horne of with her own witty, yet poignant summary (link here) of the dispute (I've excerpted my favorite parts):

It's a proud day for terry-sweatsuit loving Long Island housewives. Juicy Couture, the purveyor of fuzzy, sherbert-colored hoodies and skintight lounge pants with "Juicy" emblazoned across the ass, is suing nasty campus gossip site for "trademark infringement."
. . .
In related fashion news, Juicy Couture is also suing apples, pears, and anything else that might confuse their tanorexic clients about what, in fact, the "Juicy" brand signifies.

The founder of Juicy Campus, Matt Ivester, did the wise thing and immediately stopped selling clothes on the website with the Juicy Campus ornamentation. So long as the website sticks to gossip, he should be ok – at least from a trademark standpoint. Apparently, the website is facing some other legal issues. The New Jersey attorney general’s office is investigating whether the site has violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act (story link here) and a California Assemblyman recently asked the California attorney general’s office to investigate whether the website can be held responsible for malicious gossip postings (story link here).

For a good discussion of the impact that the recent Ninth Circuit decision in Fair Housing Council v., LLC, Case No. 04-56916 (9th Cir. April 3, 2008) (en banc) may have on Juicy Campus’s claims of immunity under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) (47 U.S.C. § 230), check out this post on Concurring Opinions written by Prof. Daniel Solove. (Remember me Dan?)

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