Should Clash-Branded Wilson Racket Stay or Go? London Is Calling
(Bloomberg) -- We all know that when the late Joe Strummer fought the law, the law won.
Now a U.K. company that owns the rights to the trademark for the legendary punk band the Clash, which Strummer fronted, is asking a court in California to hold Wilson Sporting Goods to account for selling tennis rackets using the band’s mark without permission.
Wilson began making and selling tennis rackets marked with variations of “The Clash” on Feb. 15, according to a complaint filed Friday in federal court in Los Angeles. The company, a unit of Helsinki-based Amer Sports Oyj, owns a U.S. trademark for “Clash” that was issued for use on sports-equipment bags, tennis rackets and their covers.
That caught the eye of a London company formed by Strummer’s old bandmates, which wants that trademark canceled because, it turns out, they’re already in the sports business. Since 2010, Dorisimo Ltd. has collaborated with Nike Inc.’s Converse to sell special-edition sneakers -- also known as tennis shoes, the complaint notes. Since tennis rackets are used in conjunction with tennis shoes, Dorisimo argues, people are likely to assume it’s teaming up with Wilson on the rackets.
In fact, the Clash and its music have become well known in the sports industry by way of licensing songs for play at events including “the famed Wimbledon Tennis Tournament,” according to the lawsuit.
Dorisimo is seeking damages of at least $3 million, all of Wilson’s profits from sales of infringing products and a court order blocking further unauthorized use of the trademark in connection with sports-equipment bags, tennis rackets and their covers, or related goods. It also wants the court to order Wilson to destroy the inventory of infringing products.
Wilson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the suit.
The complaint arrives on the eve of a November exhibition at the Museum of London marking the 40th anniversary of the release of the Clash’s album “London Calling.”
The case is Dorisimo Ltd. v. Wilson Sporting Goods Co., 19-cv-8155, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Western Division (Los Angeles).
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