Is Anyone Buying The Avengers' Box Set thinking They're Actuallying Buying A Rimowa's Topas Case?

from the likelihood-of-confusion dept

The latest example of nutty trademark claims comes from Rimowa, makers of various luxury luggage cases, including the Topas briefcase that has been seen in various movies over the years -- including The Avengers. The case is distinct, and Rimowa actually cultivates its appearance in movies, hiring a product placement firm with the ridiculous name PRO.P.AG.AND.A G.E.M. to get its products into movies. As Marvel was working on the movie, it apparently got one of the Rimowa Topas cases itself, but also asked the product placement firm for some backup cases, which it provided on the condition that they be returned to the company after filming (which they were). However, with Marvel announcing its box set being packaged in a "replica" case, Rimowa is not happy:
Rimowa has now sued Marvel and Buena Vista Home Entertainment claiming trademark infringement over the case. The lawsuit notes:
Images of the replica briefcase on Marvel’s advertising materials, and fan video from Marvel’s product display at this year’s ComicCon convention, show the plastic ‘replica case’ to be a close copy of Rimowa’s Topas attache case in every respect but quality -- from the proportions and coloring, to the style of the handle and latches, and, of course, in the use of the trademarked parallel ridges around the body of the case.
Of course, for there to be a straight trademark infringement claim, (1) they have to be competing in the same market and (2) there must be a likelihood of confusion. It's difficult to see how either thing is true. A movie box set is not in the same market as an overpriced travel case. And no one's buying one thinking it's the other. In fact, I'd think that having the replica used for the box set would likely increase interest in buying a real Rimowa case. And isn't that why the company wants its cases in movies in the first place?

There's a separate "dilution" trademark claim, suggesting that this packaging somehow dilutes the company's trademarks, but again, I just don't see it. It seems to reinforce the value of the original cases, not take anything away from it. Of course, the company's actions have ensured that I'd have no interest in ever buying any of its products in the future -- in which case, filing silly petty lawsuits is likely to do a lot more harm to its brand than the fact that Marvel is playing up its style in the box set packaging for a hugely popular movie.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Aug 2012 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re: Re:

    And a plastic fake Rolex will never be used as a high-end, platinum plated luxury Rolex. In fact people who buy the plastic one can't afford the expensive one, and those who buy the expensive one don't want to be caught dead wearing the cheap one), so arguably they are NOT in the same market either.

    But that doesn't matter.
    The problem is, if everyone gets to wear an imitation Rolex that looks real even though it's made of plastic, I won't buy a real Rolex ever since everyone will assume it's probably a fake. It hurts the image and value of Rolex watches.
    I'll argue that you don't need to travel by plane with a briefcase to make use of it. A plastic case could be good enough for taking the car or subway to work, or just sitting in your home's lobby so you look cool when you have guests over.

    Additionally, if producing and selling fake Rolex watches becomes legal as long as they're clearly advertised as fake, then who's preventing me from buying a bunch and selling them as real Rolex watches? My customers would be harmed by my deception.

    Finally, let's also remember that Rimowa designed the case, and they spent money to make that design. Then, the producers of the Avengers just copy the design to sell their DVD and they don't give a cent to Rimowa. That is not fair. I'm sure even the pirates here can appreciate this.

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