• January 22, 2013

Update (January 22, 2013): After trying to think of some bad shoe-related puns to insert into this post, I decided to use my better judgment and just give the facts: Minnetonka Moccasins has voluntarily dismissed its trademark infringement lawsuit against Target.

Since Minnetonka Moccasins initiated the lawsuit back in September 2012, there has been little action and, most notably, no Answer or Motion to Dismiss from Target. Does this mean that the lawsuit got the parties to start talking settlement or was this only a preview of litigation to come? We’ll have to wait and see which shoe fits. My apologies, that was an exceptionally bad pun.  My sole will burn in hell for that one…

Original Post (October 2, 2012): Branding and marketing trends in fashion can be big business. Recently, fashion powerhouse Christian Louboutin sued Yves Saint Laurent for trademark infringement. Louboutin argued that it could trademark its red-soled high heel design and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed, holding that YSL’s production of red-soled shoes was an actionable offense.

Locally, there is a dispute brewing between a retail giant and a leader in the world of comfortable and casual footwear. As reported by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Minnetonka Moccasin Company, Inc. sued Target Corp. and its third-party supplier E.S. Originals, Inc. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Minnetonka Moccasins, it is an almost 60 year old company that got its start selling moccasins to local resort-goers but now has made a fashion imprint and sells to stores in over 50 countries. Most notable in its collection are moccasins that carry the brand’s trademarked Thunderbird beaded pattern. Now, Minnetonka Moccasin claims that Target has unlawfully used its trademark and trade dress.

According to the Complaint, representatives from Target approached Minnetonka Moccasin in November 2011 offering to sell its moccasins in “prime real estate on the floor.” After Minnetonka Moccasin “promptly and politely” rejected the offer, Target started selling its own beaded moccasins. Minnetonka Moccasin alleges that Target’s moccasin uses its trademarked Thunderbird beaded pattern thereby violating various provisions of the Lanham Act and also engaging in unfair trade practices in violation of state, federal, and common law. It should be interesting to see how Target responds to these allegations and how, if at all, it will adjust its sales of new products when vendors refuse to take an offer for “prime real estate.”

While he is not a fashion maven in any respect, Jake Smith litigates all types of commercial disputes for individuals, small businesses, and corporations with the Law Office of Robert M. Smith.

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