Monday, September 09, 2013

different business lines make confusion unlikely as a matter of law

Spearmint Rhino Companies Worldwide, Inc. v. Chiappa Firearms, Ltd., No. CV 11–05682, 2012 WL 8962882 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 20, 2012)

This older case just popped up in my Westclip, and I’m noting it because it dismisses trademark claims on the pleadings, still a relative rarity.  Spearmint Rhino, which runs a strip club, sued Chiappa for using an allegedly confusingly/dilutingly similar logo on its Rhino guns.

The court ruled that there could be no likely confusion as a matter of law, primarily based on the difference between adult entertainment and firearms manufacture, “which are in no way related.”  Spearmint Rhino didn’t allege a single instance of actual confusion, nor could it plausibly allege likely confusion as to a relationship between the two companies. “Plaintiff mainly provides services in the form of adult entertainment, while Defendants mainly provide goods in the form of handguns. It is highly unlikely that a consumer would accidentally purchase one when he intended to purchase the other.”  No sponsorship confusion discussion? What a pity.

Spearmint Rhino also failed to allege facts plausibly pleading fame.  “Courts have consistently held that only the most truly prominent brands, such as Kodak, Coca Cola, Budweiser, or Barbie count as famous under the statute. Trademark dilution, due to the strict protection it applies, is only applicable in the narrowest of cases.”  Pleading facts indicating that a mark is well-known doesn’t suffice.

No comments:

Post a Comment