Saturday, May 3, 2008

Barkstrong bites back at Lance Armstrong Foundation over yellow pet collars

Remember BARKSTRONG? The company, through its website, raises money for animal charities by selling yellow pet collars bearing the words BARKSTRONG and PURRSTRONG.

In September 2007, the Lance Armstrong Foundation filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas against Chris Ohman and the Animal Charity Collar Group (d/b/a alleging that Barkstrong’s collars infringed the Foundation’s famed LIVESTRONG yellow bracelets that sell for $1.00 each and have raised over $70 million for cancer research. See Lance Armstrong Foundation v. Ohman et al, Case No. 07-cv-00769 (W. D. Texas). [See previous blog post here].

Well, the man behind Barkstrong is biting back with his own infringement lawsuit. On April 30, 2008, Chris Ohman, filing pro se, filed his own lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma against the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Lance Armstrong Endowment Fund, Yellow Dog Designs Inc.. and Mortimer H Nase for patent infringement over a design patent (D556,386 entitled “Pet collar with an embossed slogan for encouraging charitable contributions” issued November 27, 2007) for his Barkstrong pet collars. See Ohman v. Lance Armstrong Foundation et al, Case. No. 08-cv-00251 (N.D. Okla.) A copy of the complaint, which includes a copy of the design patent, can be downloaded here (courtesy of

While the complaint does not directly identify what infringing products Livestrong is selling (other than stating that Livestrong is selling collars with inspirational messages to encourage charitable contributions), it would appear that the Foundation is now selling on its website yellow pet collars with the Foundation's LIVESTRONG trademark:

Ohman cited his pending design patent application (it had not yet issued as a patent at the time) as part of his counterclaims against the Foundation in the original lawsuit. The Foundation’s response was to deny any infringement and to assert patent misuse as an affirmative defense. Ohman’s motion to dismiss has been fully briefed by the parties, but the court has yet to rule. Written settlement offers are due to be made by the parties in June pursuant to the court’s January scheduling order.

The dogfight continues.

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