[author: Steve Baird]
German-based Puma S.E. brought a trademark infringement lawsuit — based on the similarity of the cat logos — against Minnesota-based Arctic Cat, in the Northern District of Illinois at the end of last year (copy of complaint is here).
As we have written about before, sometimes the substance and merits of a trademark fight can take the back seat to first fighting over where the trademark dispute will be decided, and this case illustrates that point well. Based on matters of convenience, Puma’s choice of forum was not respected and the Northern District of Illinois recently transferred the case to the District of Minnesota (copy of decision is here).
So, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota took control of the case earlier this month, just in time to dismiss it without prejudice last week – presumably some sort of agreement was reached between the parties, so, if you know, please let us know what happened.
The complaint reveals that both Puma’s and Arctic Cat’s cat logos are used in connection with the sale of clothing, but what about this cat (Jaguar), it appears on clothing too?
Indeed, I took great interest in Paragraph 25 of the Complaint, asserting that the Puma and Arctic Cat cat logos are “strikingly similar” apparently because they are both ”leaping” (albeit in opposite directions, and with Arctic Cat’s sharp vs. Puma’s smooth lines) with both “tail[s] raised” (compare Puma’s obtuse tail angle as opposed to Arctic Cat’s acute tail angle).
How important is or should the raised tail feature be — does it adequately explain away the smooth-lined leaping Jaguar use? The tail in the Arctic Cat logo is raised, but barely, as shown above. No doubt, the Jaguar logo shows no raised tail, but what about the other close similarities to the Puma logo? And, what about the cat teeth showing in the Jaguar and Arctic Cat logos, but not the Puma logo?
After losing the fight over where the fight will be decided on the merits (if the case were to go forward), does all this help explain why it appears Puma may have tucked its tail between its legs on this one?