One thing you have to understand about intellectual property attorneys, see, is that they like to make jokes. Sometimes very bad, punny jokes. In the middle of meetings with clients, or maybe during trial. In that sense, they share a trait with many bloggers, who like to try to make up hilarious blog post titles that really aren’t that funny at all.
So, I’d like you to know that I auditioned a number of titles for this post:
The Treasures of the Sierra Trademark
The Trademark of the Sierra Madre
You Sierra, I Sue Ya
Cascade gets KnitPicky
Cascade has a knit to pick with KnitPicks
same as above, but “Crafts Americana” instead of “KnitPicks”
Sierra you later, says Cascade to KnitPicks
A Cascade of Litigation falls on KnitPicks
Have you figured out what this post is about, yet?
Here’s a hint: Cascade Yarns, whom you may know as KFI’s bestest buddy, and who would never, ever dream of starting off an industry-wide controversy alleging that its fellow distributors’ merino/acrylic/cashmere yarns lacked the cashmere content they claimed, right before — oops! introducing its own competing version with exactly the same content, complete with a test report confirming the advertised quantity of cashere, sued Crafts Americana in December for false designation of origin, unfair competition, and trademark dilution because its KnitPicks division has been using SIERRA as a trademark for yarn. Cascade, according to their complaint [PDF], has been selling its SIERRA yarn since 1997. Cascade’s yarn is a pima cotton/wool mix. KnitPicks’s version is wool and superfine alpaca. (Neither company has filed a U.S. trademark application for SIERRA, by the way.)
I’ve been wondering whether yarn companies actually hash these things out. Since only in extreme cases do lawsuits actually get started (and only in the extreme of extreme cases doee the lawsuit not settle and go to trial), I guess that yes, they do squabble about this sort of thing, particularly now that there are so many competitors.
It’s early days, yet. Crafts Americana has not yet filed a defence.
This complaint might have merit, but in view of last year’s (continuing) events, one can’t help but think of instances where companies have tried to protect their market share by negative campaigns and lawsuits against competitors. Because, you know, there are others.