Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 16,300+ case briefs...

Hartford House, Ltd. V. Hallmark Cards, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
846 F.2d 1268 (1988)


Hartford House, Ltd. (Hartford) (plaintiff) produced two lines of greeting cards called “AireBrush Feelings” and “WaterColor Feelings.” These cards used landscape and nature themes and contained emotional messages about love, relationships, and other subjects. Hartford had been producing these lines of cards since 1981 and 1983, respectively. Hallmark Cards, Inc. (Hallmark) (defendant) produced a line of cards called “Personal Touch,” which also contained emotional messages on the same topics as Hartford’s cards. Hallmark had tested five other looks before deciding to use this one. Hallmark began producing this line in April 1986. Hartford sued Hallmark for unfair competition, claiming that Hallmark’s cards were deceptively and confusingly similar to Hartford’s. Hartford sought a preliminary injunction to prevent Hallmark from producing and selling its “Personal Touch” line on the basis that Hallmark’s cards infringed the protected trade dress of Hartford’s card lines. The district court found that Hartford was a leading producer of this style of greeting cards and that Hallmark knew this and produced the “Personal Touch” line in order to compete in the same market. The district court also found that Hartford’s cards had an inherently distinctive appearance from 10 specific features that consumers attributed to Hartford. Furthermore, Hartford provided evidence of many other alternative designs used by other competitors to show that it Hallmark could have come up with its own distinct card line. One of Hartford and Hallmark’s competitors even testified that there was still a lot of room left for innovation in the genre. The district court then granted Hartford’s preliminary injunction for 83 of Hallmark’s cards. Hallmark appealed this decision.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (McKay, J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 366,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 16,300 briefs, keyed to 223 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.