Tourna Grip Trade Dress Ruled Not Infringed in Trademark Infringement Case

By Joseph Mandour on November 16, 2011

tennis-ball-thumb-200x150-30158 California – Ferrari Importing Company doing business as Gamma Sports recently won a bench trial in a United States District Court in Georgia against Unique Sports Products.

Unique Sports brought the action for trade dress infringement alleging that Gamma Sports infringed Unique’s distinctive trade dress for the light blue tennis racket grip tape marketed as Tourna Grip.

Unique spends approximately $250,000 annually advertising the Tourna Grip product and counts Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Venus Williams, and Maria Sharpova as users. Tourna Grip is the most successful tennis grip tape occupying 50% of the market and experiencing sales of about $40 million. The federal judge ruled in the action that Unique’s Tourna Grip trade dress had indeed achieved secondary meaning and was therefore valid. Unique argued that it features its light blue color in its advertising, utilizing ad slogans including “the blue Tourna Grip,” “blue tape,” and “the original light blue grip.”

The court found in the bench trial that Unique’s light blue trademark was valid but that Gamma Sports had not infringed the Unique’s trademark. The court concluded that while the Tourna Grip comes only in light blue, the Gamma Sports gauze was sold in several shades of blue, the closest being a teal shade. In addition, the gauze functioned differently from the Tourna Grip. The Gamma Sports Gauze product is self-adhesive while the Tourna Grip requires a separate adhesive to attach to the handle of the racket. The products also differ in texture and appearance.

Due to the difference in color, function, and appearance, the court found that the Gamma Sports gauze is not confusingly similar to the Tourna Grip. The judge also noted that because of the two products’ functional differences, tennis players typically prefer one product over the other and that allowing Gamma Sports to continue to market its gauze in shades of blue will not confuse customers or harm Unique’s Tourna Grip trademark.

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