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Levi Strauss & Co. v. Abercrombie & Fitch Trading Co.

633 F.3d 1158 (2011)

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Levi Strauss & Co. v. Abercrombie & Fitch Trading Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

633 F.3d 1158 (2011)

Facts

Levi Strauss & Co. (Levi) (plaintiff), a blue-jeans manufacturer, held a federally registered trademark for the famous Arcuate stitching design on its jeans’ back pockets. The Arcuate design consisted of two arches that met in the center of the pocket. The vast majority of Levi’s revenue came from garments bearing the Arcuate mark. Levi actively enforced its trademark rights in the Arcuate stitching design. Abercrombie & Fitch Trading Co. (Abercrombie) (defendant), a competing blue-jeans manufacturer, began to use a Ruehl stitching design on the back pockets of its jeans. The Ruehl stitching design included two arches connected by a dipsy-doodle that looked like an infinity symbol. The Ruehl stitching design arches were less-pronounced than the arches in Levi’s Arcuate stitching design. Levi brought an action against Abercrombie for a violation of the Trademark Dilution Revision Act (TDRA). Levi’s expert witness testified that the Ruehl design would erode the distinctiveness of Levi’s famous Arcuate mark, according to a consumer-confusion survey the expert conducted. Abercrombie’s expert witness argued that the consumer-confusion survey’s methodology was flawed. The district court requested advisory rulings from the jury regarding Levi’s trademark-dilution claim under the TDRA. The jury ruled that the marks were not identical or nearly identical. The jury ruled that Levi’s famous Arcuate trademark was not likely to be diluted by Abercrombie’s Ruehl stitching design. The district court agreed with the jury’s advisory ruling that Levi did not establish that the Ruehl design was likely to cause dilution by blurring the Arcuate mark. The district court entered judgment for Abercrombie.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ripple, J.)

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