Levi Strauss & Co. v. Hammies Company, 3:22-cv-07056 (N.D. Cal.).
Levi’s has filed a trade mark related lawsuit against Santa Barbara-based apparel company Hammies. According to the complaint filed by Levi Strauss & CO (Levi’s) in federal court on November 10, Levi’s claims that Hammies use of little fabric tags is infringing their “famous” tab trade mark.
The tag used on jeans and other products that Levi’s sells is often displayed near the pocket and in red but also appears in other colours, including orange, silver and white. Levi’s has said they are “recognized around the world and throughout the United States by consumers as signifying authentic, high-quality LEVI’S® garments.”
In its complaint, Levi’s claims that it began using its tab trade mark back in 1936, making it one of “the oldest and most well-respected apparel trade marks in the world.” The San Francisco-based denim-maker claims it maintains a plethora of trade mark rights and registration, including for tabs.
Hammies may have only been established in 2017, but already have a following among consumers in the surfing, skateboarding and roller skating communities, popular for their SoCal 1950’s and ’60’s throwback style shorts and apparel.
Levi’s contends that Hammies misappropriated Levi’s famous tab as a symbol for its own apparel products and that Hammies garments “bearing [a fabric] tab that are highly similar to [its own registered] tab trademarks and are likely to confuse consumers about the source of Hammies’ products and/or a relationship between Hammies and [Levi’s].”
Examples of Hammies’ shorts with tabs (image via complaint)
Levi’s claims that it had written to Hammies demanding it cease such alleged infringements, and allegedly Hammies responded by promising to cease all advertising, promotion, offer, display, and sale of products bearing the Hammies tab.
Levi’s suit sets out claims of trade mark infringement and dilution, as well as unfair competition, and is seeking injunctive relief and monetary damages.
This is not Levi’s first tab-related lawsuit; the American denim brand has been embroiled in trade mark fights with fashion houses and luxury brands including Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), Kenzo, and Barbour, for allegedly attaching pocket tabs to apparel that Levi’s claimed to be “highly similar to [its] tab trademark and are likely to confuse consumers about the source of [their] products and/or a relationship between [them] and Levi’s.”
Barbour claimed that the cease-and-desist letter that it received from Levi’s back in 2018 was “a classic example of severe overreaching by a company that has the dubious distinction of being one of the world’s biggest trademark ‘bullies.’
YSL also fought back against Levi’s attempt to enforce its tab trade marks, arguing that “consumers regularly encounter decorative pocket ornaments sold by a large number of third-party users.”
YSL also pointed out the difference in price points for its jeans, which retail for between “$550 and $2,590 per pair,” versus Levi’s significantly lower price point jeans.
Most of the trade mark related cases from recent years have been settled relatively quickly, however, the Barbour case played out for more than a year. We will see how this suit plays out.
If you need trade mark advice relating to a new product or branding, please contact one of our trade mark experts to discuss your options.