Minnetonka Sues Target

Minnetonka Moccasin Co. has sued Target Corp. and E.S. Originals Inc. for infringing on the trademark and trade dress of its 40-year-old Thunderbird moccasin design.

In documents filed with the U.S. District Court of Minnesota last Tuesday, the Minneapolis-based shoe firm is suing for unfair competition and deceptive trade practices. Minnetonka was granted a federal registration for its Thunderbird design mark from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in April 2006.

Minnetonka alleges in the lawsuit that Target is selling moccasins with a design that is “confusingly similar to [the] Thunderbird,” with New York-based E.S. Originals being the offending supplier or sourcing agent for the footwear.

Minnetonka alleges Target “has knowledge of the valuable goodwill represented by Minnetonka Moccasin’s Thunderbird design because the retail giant had in November 2011 “offered ‘prime real estate on the floor’ of Target stores for the moccasins made by Minnetonka Moccasin.” However, “Minnetonka Moccasin promptly and politely passed on the sales opportunities presented by Target.”

The lawsuit added, “In early 2012, despite Target’s knowledge of Minnetonka Moccasin’s prior and superior rights in the Thunderbird design … Target began marketing and selling in its stores moccasins with a beaded thunderbird design nearly identical to Minnetonka’s. Target willfully and intentionally chose the infringing design to trade off the valuable goodwill of Minnetonka.”

The Minnetonka Thunderbird style retails on Zappos.com for $39.95.

The allegedly infringing style is still listed for sale on Target’s website, bearing the name Mossimo Orla Flat and retailing for $19.99.

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