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Imported From Detroit, Right Into The Courtroom

Posted in auto industry, Chrysler, Legal, News by Kurt Ernst | March 17th, 2011 | Leave a Reply |

Chrysler's latest "Imported From Detroit" logo.

Here’s a free piece of advice: if you’re a boutique clothing retailer, it’s best to not rip-off the slogan from a major automaker, especially when that slogan has brought them unexpected success and media attention. When they ask you nicely to “cease and desist”, and to donate proceeds from merchandise sales to charity, your best response is to say “yes” and act quickly. When it comes to taking on the juggernaut that is Chrysler’s legal department, you have no hope of winning. In fact, I’ll wager a bet that they have more lawyers on staff than you have employees, and they’ll bleed you dry of resources before you can say “trademark infringement.” What’s this about? Read on to find out.

After Chrysler’s huge success with the “Imported From Detroit” tagline, which premiered at great expense to the automaker during the Super Bowl, clothing retailer Pure Detroit allegedly printed up a batch of “Imported From Detroit” clothing. Worse, the retailer allegedly billed themselves as the “exclusive provider” of Imported From Detroit clothing, and emphasized the slogan’s popularity in their advertising. Chrysler says they’ve made several attempts to resolve the matter outside of the legal system, and that Pure Detroit has rejected Chrysler’s request that a portion of their proceeds be donated to charity. Ironically, the brand has pulled the merchandise from their website, but continues to sell it in their retail stores.

If the case does go to court, the trademark filing dates will be the deciding factor. Chrysler applied for a trademark on “Imported From Detroit”, relating to automobiles, on November 23. They refiled the trademark, relating to clothing, on January 18, and then filed a third blanket trademark request on February 8. The only chance that Pure Detroit has is to prove their clothing line pre-dates Chrysler’s trademark filing of January 18, or ideally of November 23. That’s not likely, and I’m guessing that this will ultimately get settled out of court.

Source: Detroit News

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