Plaintiff Hawaii-Pacific Apparel Group Inc Summary

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Facts: Plaintiff Hawaii-pacific Apparel Group, Inc. (“HP”) is an apparel merchandiser. Defendants are Cleveland Browns Football Company, LLC and National League Football Properties, Inc. (“NFLP”) which is the merchandising and licensing arm of the National Football League. In 1984, Browns players and fans started to refer to the team’s fans as the “Dawg Pound”. In 1986, HP began to manufacture some non-football-related apparel with the DAWG POUND phrase. In 1994, HP failed to register the mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”), but HP then registered two similar DAWG marks and earned lots of profits from the DAWG-related merchandise. In 1999, when the NFL tried to filed the DAWG POUND mark with the PTO but it failed because of the similarity of HP’s marks. Then HP filed a complaint with five counts including a copyright infringement and unfair competition. Defendants answered counterclaims mirror HP’s claims. Issue: Whether any issue of fact exists to be tried as to which party is the senior user, and whether HP or the Browns and NFLP used the…show more content…
The “talismanic test” is whether a person’s use of the mark was sufficiently public to distinguish the marked goods in an appropriate segment of the public mind as those of the adopter of the mark. The phrase DAWG POUND was recognized by the public as Browns team’s fans. In addition, Browns registered the marks CLEVELAND BROWNS DOGS and CLEVELAND BROWNS DAWGS with the State of Ohio Trademark Office. The court noted that NFLP and the Browns licensed before HP alleged to have first used the mark in 1994. Therefore, the court agreed jury’s statement that HP was not the senior user. The court rejected HP’s argument that NFLP and the Browns did not control their licensees. By listing three related cases, the court argued that licensees had to sign licensing agreements from NFLP’s

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