Clothing retailer Urban Outfitters, Inc., won a trademark infringement case against competing clothing retailer BCBG Max Azria Group, Inc., in a lawsuit concerning Urban Outfitters' "Free People" trademark. In Urban Outfitters, Inc. et al. v. BCBG Max Azria Group, Inc. et al., No. 07-3882, 08-1472 and 08-1655 (3d Cir. 2009), Urban Outfitters claimed that it has been selling clothing, shoes and accessories under the "Free People" mark since 1970, and that it formally acquired the trademark registration in 1994. At a 2006 trade show in Las Vegas, however, Urban Outfitters representatives discovered that the BCBG felt "free" to use a substantially similar mark on its clothing brand. The 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that there was a likelihood of confusion between the brands and found for Urban Outfitters. The court also remanded the case to the district court to reconsider granting attorneys' fees, which had previously been denied Urban Outfitters under the "exceptional case" doctrine. Although the district court refused to find that BCBG's "missteps in the discovery process" rose to the level of misconduct, the Court of Appeals remanded the case and directed the district court to reconsider granting Urban Outfitters' attorneys' fees in the matter. Looks like some things in life (like trademarks) aren't free.
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