The Ninth Circuit's Holding in Levi Strauss v. Abercrombie & Fitch - "Degree of Similarity" Is But One of Six TDRA Factors, Not the Threshold Test -- Marks An Important Decision Elucidating ...

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On Monday, February 8, 2011, the Ninth Circuit reversed the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, which had held that Levi Strauss failed to establish by a preponderance of evidence that Abercrombie & Fitch's Ruehl pocket stitching design is likely to cause dilution by blurring of Levi Strauss' famous Arcuate pocket stitching design because it had not established that "[Abercrombie] is making commercial use of a mark that is identical or nearly identical to the [Levi Strauss] Arcuate mark." Compare Levi Strauss v. Abercrombie & Fitch, No. 09-16322, 2011 WL 383972, at *13 (9th Cir. Feb. 8, 2011) with Levi Strauss, No. C07-03752 JSW, 2009 WL 1082175, at *9 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 22, 2009).

The Ninth Circuit held that:

[T]he plain language of 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c) does not require that a plaintiff establish that the junior mark is identical, nearly identical or substantially similar to the senior mark in order to obtain injunctive relief. Rather a plaintiff must show, based upon the factors set forth in § 1125(c)(2)(B), including the degree of similarity, that a junior mark is likely to impair the distinctiveness of the famous mark.

Levi Strauss, 2011 WL 383972, at *13.

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