‘Imported From Detroit’ Trademark Lawsuit Headed to Mediation

By Joseph Mandour on April 2, 2012

LawyerLos Angeles – Chrysler Group LLC and Pure Detroit are headed off to mediation after a year of battling over the ‘Imported From Detroit’ trademark. The lawsuit stems from March 2011 when Chrysler sued Pure Detroit and its owners for using the phrase ‘Imported From Detroit’ on T-shirts in its retail and online stores. In 2011, Chrysler had just launched its new campaign for the Chrysler 200 in a two-minute television commercial during the Super Bowl XLV in which it used the slogan ‘Imported From Detroit’. Chrysler claimed that Pure Detroit began selling the ‘Imported From Detroit’ T-shirts directly after that Super Bowl in which its campaign was launched.

In the following month of April 2011, Pure Detroit countersued Chrysler claiming that it did not have a valid use to the trademark because the “phrase is geographical, descriptive and arguably misleading.” Pure Detroit’s claim was also based on the fact that the auto company is based in Auburn Hills, Michigan and the assembly of the Chrysler 200, as shown in the advertising campaign, was assembled in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Also stated in the lawsuit was Chrysler’s request that the court allow ceasing all sales of Pure Detroit’s T-shirts that used the slogan. However, after reviewing the case, Judge Arthur Tarnow of the U.S. District Court rejected Chrysler’s motion because there was no evidence that the automaker would suffer irreparable harm if the T-shirts were available for purchase. Therefore, throughout the lawsuit Pure Detroit has continued selling T-shirts using the slogan ‘Imported From Detroit”.

Pure Detroit is owned by Moda Group LLC, a merchandise retailer with ties to Detroit, who in April 2011 filed a letter of protest with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office against the ‘Imported From Detroit’ trademark for “varying uses of the phrase.”

In a statement posted on its website Pure Detroit states, “Chrysler does not have exclusive rights to the phrase “IMPORTED FROM DETROIT” because it is merely descriptive and not a protectable trademark.” Chrysler confirmed the agreement to use mediation but had no further comment. Both companies have until April 3, 2012, to inform the court if an agreement has been reached through mediation.

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