Stat Ltd. v. Beard Head Inc., No. 3:13CV762-HEH, 2014 WL 5465088 (E.D. Va. October 28, 2014)
Stat, Ltd. filed an action against Beard Head, Inc., contending that Beard Head had infringed the trade dress, look, and feel of Stat's product, a knitted beard attached to a hat. Beard Head moved for a judgment on the pleadings, arguing that Stat had failed to plead with specificity the facts necessary to succeed on its claim.
In its evaluation of the sufficiency of Stat's claim, the Court noted that "trade dress infringement claims [involve] an inherently factual review rarely resolved at the motion to dismiss stage." The Court elected not to weigh the merits of Stat's allegations on Beard Head's motion, holding instead that Stat's claim satisfied federal pleading standards.
While, according to the Court, Stat's complaint contained thin factual support related to its trade dress's distinctiveness and priority in the marketplace, the Court determined that Stat alleged enough to survive Beard Head's motion.
The Court's reticence to find as a matter of law that Stat had not alleged a sufficient factual basis for its claim is noteworthy, and informs potential trade dress litigants of the evidentiary and legal hurdles they face in succeeding on their claims.