Hallmark Smacked with Trademark Lawsuit Just in Time for Holiday Season

Trademark InfringementLos Angeles – With companies beginning to gear up for the all important holiday season, it looks like one of the nation’s biggest holiday-themed retailers will have to put on its boxing gloves. Hallmark Cards, Inc., which is based in Kansas, was hit with a lawsuit last week for its upcoming line of holiday products called “North Pole City.”  A company of the same name from Oklahoma City is claiming trademark infringement against the greeting card kingpin.

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Hallmark filed its federal Trademark application for “North Pole City” in June 2013.   North Pole City, however, claims that it filed an application for state protection in Oklahoma back in 1997.   The new line of products, set to roll out in time for the holidays, will feature products including a “series of fictional books, stationery, greeting cards, gift wrapping paper,” and “cookie decoration devices, serving plates and cheese spreaders,” all branded with the “North Pole City” name.

Even after filing its lawsuit against Hallmark last week, North Pole City has emphasized its desire to resolve the matter “informally” outside of court.   It appears that Hallmark is not planning on backing down anytime soon, however, as one spokesperson said that the Hallmark team had explicitly alerted North Pole City of its plans for the new line sometime last year.   Hallmark’s rep further indicated that at this point, they do not believe that customers would be confused between the two uses of the name.   She pointed out that while the North Pole City company uses its name to designate its retail store location in Oklahoma City, the Hallmark-backed project would feature the name as a marketing concept about a fictional city called “North Pole City.”

Despite Hallmark’s attempt to differentiate the two uses, North Pole City has demanded that the much bigger retailer stop production of the anticipated line.   Further, it asks that Hallmark cease use of the name, give up the product it has already produced featuring the name, and of course, provide adequate compensation for any lost profits.   For now, Hallmark has yet to formally respond to the lawsuit.  However, it has noted that its in house legal team is handling the matter and that it is “confident” that a resolution will be reached.




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