Levi’s Jeans Stitching Trademark Claim Marches On

Levi’s and Abercrombie have had a long-running battle over the stitching of their jeans.  Levi’s sued and lost in the district court after a jury decided that Abercrombie’s stitch design was not confusingly similar to Levi’s.  At the same time, the Patent Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeals Board dismissed Levi’s objections to Abercrombie’s application for a trademark on its stitch design.  But when Levi’s appealed that ruling to the Federal Circuit, the Federal Circuit Court reversed.

“In the district court, the issue was whether Abercrombie’s marketing of specific Ruehl-line products with the mirror-image design was likely to cause confusion with Levi Strauss’s Arcuate mark. That product-specific focus in infringement litigation is common.”  However, the Federal Circuit concluded, int he Patent Office opposition proceeding the issue was distinct.  ”Because Abercrombie seeks to register a broad class of goods—“clothing, namely, jeans, skirts, shorts, pants and jackets”—without providing further limitations, the scope of the registrations at issue exceeds what the parties litigated in the district court.”  As a result, the federal court trial did not preclude Levi’s form pursuing its opposition proceeding before the Trademark Trials and Appeals Board.

The Federal Circuit appeal is called Levi Strauss Jeans Co. v. Abercrombie & Fitch Trading Co., 2012-1495 (Fed. CIr. June 18, 2013).  The panel of Judges was O’Malley,Lourie and Taranto.


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