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April 14, 2011

Coach Wallops Jo-Ann For Branding Faux Pas

CoachvsJoAnne.pngCoach has sued Jo-Ann Fabrics over one of its Blizzard Fleece designs. Apparently, the elongated Os in the latter are too close to the well known Coach Cs, which form a valuable part of the company's brand name identity.

Coach claims that this has caused "consumer confusion."

According to Women's Wear Daily, "The complaint [also] charges the defendants with trade dress and copyright infringement, trademark counterfeiting, false designation of origin, false advertising and trademark dilution." Ouch.

For the most part, the blogosphere does not seem to be impressed with Coach's actions, with one blogger writing, "Perso, we think if someone wants to walk around in a hand-made, head-to-toe, fleece ensemble (please remember, we're talking about the warmest fabric ever) vaguely resembling a brand last relevant in 2000, Coach should let him or her do so."

Coach, who deals with counterfeiters all the time, seems pretty fired up over this. They are seeking more than $2 Million "per counterfeit mark, per type of counterfeit good, punitive damages, attorneys fees and other costs."

Wasserman's Civil Procedure Blog is on the fence about whether a likelihood of confusion could be proved, but does think that the damages Coach is seeking is "excessive."

Other bloggers point out that Jo-Anne is the home of the crafter, "So any moms scheming to whip up a nice fleecey Halloween costume out of Coachish-looking fabric for their kids this year, consider yourselves warned." The point being, people who shop for Coach usually are not going to Jo-Ann's, so the customer confusion should be minimal.

On the other hand, Fasion etc points out that it "Looks like the 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' excuse isn't cutting it anymore."

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Posted by William Lozito at April 14, 2011 8:41 AM
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