Wednesday, February 21, 2024
HomeNEWSINTERNATIONALMASSIVE HARLEY TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT PAY-OUT

MASSIVE HARLEY TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT PAY-OUT

Famously always referring to itself as Harley-Davidson™ in press releases, America’s flagship bike brand is fiercely protective of intellectual property — as US online retailer SunFrog has just discovered at great cost. BDN finanial editor Roger Willis reports.

SunFrog operates a web platform which sells print-on-demand clothing products to consumers, who are invited to upload designs of their choice. Harley-Davidson initiated court proceedings against it in May last year, accusing the company of selling counterfeit merchandise, including T-shirts and leggings, featuring various trademarked Harley logos. The retailer was also held accountable for illegally advertising and promoting these products via Facebook by providing its sellers with sales-tracking tools and offering tutorials for social media marketing.

Despite promising to desist in the face of a preliminary court injunction, SunFrog’s trademark infringements continued for some time. And the US District Court for Eastern Wisconsin has finally issued a damning verdict in Harley’s favour. Its motion for partial summary judgment was granted, with District Judge J P Stadtmueller awarding a cool $19.2m (£14m) for wilful counterfeiting — the biggest pay-out Harley has ever won for abuse of trademarks.

But being found guilty in this respect, and on the receiving end of a permanent injunction prohibiting any further production of Harley-branded apparel items, doesn’t mean SunFrog’s troubles are over. Judge Stadtmueller has yet to assess the amount of compensatory damages to award for any non-counterfeiting acts of infringement, as well as ruling on liability and damages for copyright infringement.

 

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