Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Scott vs. ScotteVest heads to court

Defendant would like to reach settlement before trial

Express Staff Writer

A lawsuit filed by Ketchum-based Scott USA alleging that local clothing manufacturer ScotteVest violated its trademark will be considered Nov. 9 by a federal judge.

As the case heads to U.S. District Court in Boise, the defendant is saying that he has made repeated efforts to settle the dispute out of court but has been unable to satisfy the demands of Scott USA, one of the world?s leading sporting goods manufacturers.

?This embodies the frivolous nature of lawsuits and big companies picking on little companies,? said Scott Jordan, founder and chief executive officer of ScotteVest.

At issue is a June lawsuit filed by Scott USA that alleges ScotteVest has violated and diluted the Scott USA company trademark, largely by using a logo that includes the word ?Scott? in a font similar to that used in their own logo.

Based in Ketchum, ScotteVest specializes in producing outdoor wear and clothing that accommodates electronic equipment, such as digital music players, handheld computers and cellular phones.

Jordan established ScotteVest in 2001 in Chicago and moved the business to Ketchum in September 2003. ScotteVest sells its fleece jackets, shell jackets, sports jackets and other specialized clothing items primarily through the Internet.

Scott USA was founded in Ketchum in 1958. The company is known best for its ski goggles and ski poles, but also sells outdoor-sports apparel, bicycles and other gear.

The Scott USA lawsuit alleges that by operating under the ScotteVest name, Jordan violated federal trademark-infringement laws and engaged in ?unfair competition.?

In addition to listing six categories of violations committed by ScotteVest, the lawsuit demands a permanent injunction against any use of the word ?Scott? to promote or sell ScotteVest products, plus monetary damages.

In June, Dave Stevens, Scott USA chief financial officer, said the word ?Scott,? as it is written in the ScotteVest logo, notably resembles several of Scott USA?s trademarked uses of the same word.

?He?s using a logo very close to the ?Scott? logo,? Stevens said at the time. ?It creates confusion in the mind of the consumer.?

Stevens this week could not be reached for comment on developments in the case.

Jordan, who operates ScotteVest with his wife, Laura Jordan, the company president, has vehemently denied violating the Scott USA trademark or gaining any benefit from the Scott USA name.

When asked to comment on the case last week, Jordan said he has proposed several changes to his logo but has been told by Scott USA representatives that they are insufficient to have the lawsuit dropped or settled out of court.

?What it really boils down to is the likelihood of confusion between the companies and there really is none,? Jordan said. ?I don?t want to be confused with them. We?re selling different stuff.?

Jordan added: ?We?ve been willing to make changes. We just won?t change the name of our company.?

In defending his position, Jordan has noted that his company holds a registered trademark for the ScotteVest name.

Jordan estimated it will cost him $20,000 to change his logo and could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend the lawsuit.

The court hearing scheduled for Nov. 9 will be conducted as a ?settlement conference,? essentially an effort to bring the two parties together to discuss possible terms for settling the case.

If no settlement is reached, Jordan said, the case will likely be scheduled for a trial in 2005.

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