Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hamilton Ventura Trade Dress Infringement Against Stuhrling Original

Did any of you moviegoers notice Will Smith’s watch during Men in Black III? Apparently Will Smith wore the same watch, a “Hamilton Ventura”, in all three of the Men in Black movies. The watch has also graced the wrists of Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii and Rod Sterling on The Twilight Zone.

The Swatch Group Inc., which manufactures Hamilton brand watches, has filed a trade dress and trademark infringement lawsuit against Stuhrling Original LLC for “intentionally copying” the Ventura watch.

A product can only receive trade dress protection if there is public recognition of its “look.” This can be achieved through years of advertising, promotion, and popularity. The Swatch Group Inc. will likely bring up that Hamilton released the Ventura watch in 1957 and since then it has been labeled as one of the “most iconic wrist watches ever designed.”

Stuhrling sells the “Stuhrling Ricochet,” a watch that features a triangular design that could make it look similar to the Men in Black watch. The CEO of Stuhrling has said: “there are a lot of triangular watches out in the marketplace…we really don’t feel that the lawsuit has any validity.”

Supposedly what got Swatch Group Inc. really upset was a comment made by a ShopNBC host when the Stuhrling watch appeared on the segment. Shortly after the release of MIB, the show aired and the host said: “if memory serves, there is another motion picture release now where this is once again being touted.”

The Swatch Group has also named ShopNBC in the lawsuit against Stuhrling. It claims trademark infringement unfair competition, false advertising, and demands a permanent injunction. The Swatch Group has reportedly spent millions of dollars to promote the watch and now wants to ensure that people don’t get confused over the source of the “Hollywood favorite.”