Harley-Davidson sues Next over alleged trademark infringement

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Harley-Davidson sues Next over alleged trademark infringement

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Harley-Davidson is suing Next in London’s High Court over claims that a “motorbike-inspired” T-shirt sold by the UK retailer rips off its logo.

The US motorcycle maker alleges that the garment, adorned with biker angel wings, flames and the text “Rise and Roar” emblazoned across the chest, infringes its trademarks.

In a lawsuit filed last month, Harley-Davidson said Next’s product “essentially replicates” the outline of its logo and also features “graphic material and text which is . . . commonly seen in the context of a motorcycle-based branding and more specifically the claimants’ branding”.

The retailer’s design “gives rise to a likelihood of confusion on the part of the relevant average consumer”. 

The item, which Next describes as a “Black Fearless Stud Graphic” long- sleeve T-shirt, has been offered for sale and sold in sizes for children between 3 and 16 years old at prices ranging from £12 to £17, recently discounted to £6 to £8.50, according to the documents.

A shirt sold by Next that allegedly copies the Harley-Davidson logo

Harley-Davidson is seeking a declaration from the court that Next has infringed its trademarks and an order that it destroy “all infringing materials”. It did not quantify damages.

Next is one of Britain’s oldest and largest fashion and homeware retailers, selling third-party brands as well as its own-label products. The company said it was aware of the claim but declined to comment.

The Milwaukee-based motorcycle group’s legal claim filed with the UK court features pictures of its logo alongside those of the allegedly offending Next product. Next “specifically references” that its T-shirt has “motorbike-inspired” chest graphics, Harley said.

“Black and flame and wing motifs are often used in combination with [Harley’s] branding and the trade marks,” it added. The design used by Next would “call [Harley’s imagery] to mind for many members of the public”.

William Harley and Arthur Davidson founded the company in 1903 with the latter’s two siblings.

In addition to its motorcycle and parts business, Harley-Davidson has also built a clothing arm over the years, notching up $64mn in sales in its most recent quarter. It said in its claim that it had sold “branded merchandise in the UK, including clothing and apparel, for decades”.

It has fought several legal battles in recent years to protect its trademarks, some of which it has won. In its most recent annual report it said it has “a vigorous worldwide program of trademark registration and enforcement to maintain and strengthen the value of the trademarks and prevent the unauthorised use [of them]”.

Harley-Davidson declined to comment.

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