Furniture companies routinely protect their house mark, i.e., the name of the company. However, unlike house marks, which are usually well-established (e.g., Thomasville, La-Z-Boy) or an inherently strong mark (e.g., Century Furniture), collection names are not necessarily strong marks. In fact, some collection names are used repeatedly by numerous furniture companies (e.g., Central Park). Thus, what's a furniture company to do?
One step is to file trademark applications on collection names. Granted, collections have a limited life but a trademark application can be useful even before a registration issues. For example, Commercial Furniture Group (Newport, TN) recently sued Keilhauer (Ontario, Canada) for infringing several collection names, including MOSS, CHILL, MOSS-CHILL, and MOSS-NOOK. (Civil No. 3:11-cv-00656 (S.D. Il.). The fact that Commercial Furniture has pending trademark applications for several of these collection names may bolster its chance of success since the applications may mature into registrations during the pendency of the litigation.
If a collection will be or is a hot seller, or if the name of the collection is unique, furniture companies should consider filing a trademark application to help protect the name. The costs are relatively minimal and the benefits are tremendous should an infringer pop up.