from the turn-the-other-cheek dept
Show of hands: who remembers the North Face vs. South Butt saga? Ah, yes, the trademark battle built perfectly for those of us with a sophomoric sense of humor, fully entertained us three years ago, when an upstart clothier attempted to be funny and the humorless lawyers at North Face cried consumer confusion. While the claim of confusion was as laughable as the rest of the story, the court proceedings saw South Butt agree to change its brand name. Which it did...to Butt Face, because why the hell not? South Butt/Butt Face, after all, was pimping its own publicity by streisanding its way through court proceedings, all thanks to North Face refusing to put down the litigation stick.
Perhaps snowboarder Casey Sherr was taking notes at the time for his eventual release in 2013 of his Ass Armor clothing company, which of course has Under Armour's shorts in a twist.
The Ft. Lauderdale company faces a trademark infringement lawsuit from Under Armour — and plans to fight. The $3 billion Baltimore athletic apparel maker also accused the snowboard shorts maker of unfair competition and cybersquatting for using the name Ass Armor and a tagline that could be confused with Under Armour's. The defendant copies Under Armour by using similar lettering and putting the Ass Armor name along the shorts' waistband, the lawsuit says.Could the well-known Under Armour brand and imagery be somehow confused with Ass Armor and its logo?
"Making matters worse, similar to Under Armour's well-known and widely promoted Protect This House tagline mark, defendants use, advertise and promote their Ass Armor mark, name and products… in connection with the Protect Your Assets tagline," says the lawsuit, filed last month in U.S. District Court in Maryland.
Frankly, it stretches credulity to believe that such confusion is likely. More likely this is simply the latest in a long line of battles Under Armour's legal team has staged for itself, having previously gone after Skechers, Salt Armour Inc., and others. Much like the South Butt case, it's woefully likely that all the courts will see is the obvious play on some of the more generic aspects of Under Armour's marks rather than actually weighing any real concerns over customer confusion.
What's clear is that trademark wasn't designed to keep this kind of stuff tied up in court battles like this. Unlike South Butt, Ass Armor appears to be willing to fight the battle.
"We strongly believe the lawsuit filed by Under Armour has no merit," said Scherr, president of the company that makes only the padded shorts, in an email Thursday. "Ass Armor has spent months fighting with Under Armour in front of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and then, without notice, Under Armour filed this matter in federal court. We believe this is a classic David and Goliath battle. As David, we intend to fight."Protecting its assets is part of the Ass Armor way, after all.