Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bikemaker cleans its allegedly dirty hands

Campagnolo S.R.L. v. Full Speed Ahead, Inc. --- F.R.D. ----, 2009 WL 1835938 (W.D. Wash.)

Campagnolo sued its competitor FSA, alleging false advertising about the stiffness-to-weight ratio Campagnolo’s crankset (a bicycle component). FSA raised an unclean hands defense, and Campagnolo successfully moved to strike. In a Lanham Act case, an unclean hands defense is available when the plaintiff engaged in inequitable conduct relating to the subject matter of its claims. FSA’s defense was that from 2004 to 2006 (two years before FSA’s allegedly false advertising), Campagnolo falsely advertised the weight of its own crankset. There were no allegations of false claims about FSA’s cranksets. Thus, FSA’s claims didn’t directly relate to Campagnolo’s allegations, but only accused Campagnolo of misconduct in the abstract. General allegations about Campagnolo’s prior history in its crankset ads are not “fair game” for an unclean hands defense.

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