from the drink-up dept
We keep seeing cases where companies think that a trademark gives them a total monopoly over the trademark. That, of course, is not true. Not only is a trademark only supposed to be limited to cases of confusion or (in more recent construction) dilution, it’s also only supposed to be applied in areas of commerce that compete. In other words, it’s perfectly fine to use the same mark in totally different business areas. But, of course, some companies simply refuse to believe that (Monster Cable is famous for ignoring this, for example). But, thankfully, judges are quite aware of this. Brian points out that a judge has dismissed a trademark lawsuit brought by Trek Bicycle Corp. (makers of, you guessed it, bicycles) against a small northern California winery called Trek Winery. In this case, the lawsuit was dismissed for jurisdictional problems, in that the case was brought in Wisconsin (where the bicycle company is based), despite the vast majority of the winery’s business being in California. But, still, the judge questioned whether or not there could actually be any confusion at all in Wisconsin. Apparently, the bicycle company cited three orders to Wisconsin — two of the orders went to relatives of the winery’s owners and one order went to a spouse of an employee of the bike company (and that single order was just a test to confirm that the winery would deliver to Wisconsin). Those are hardly quantities that would threaten the bike company’s business.
Of course, this does mean that a lawsuit could be filed again in Northern California, but again, you have to wonder who’s confusing a bicycle with a bottle of wine? Separately, another article on the lawsuit notes that the producers of Star Trek were originally concerned about the wine, but eventually decided it wasn’t worth pursuing.