Jayco Inc. and Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC today (July 1) jointly announced that they have settled the trademark infringement lawsuit filed earlier in the year by Jayco against Heartland.
The suit, filed in April in the United States District Court, Northern District of Indiana, had alleged that Elkhart, Ind.-based Heartland’s newly introduced line of recreational vehicles called Eagle Ridge violated Jayco’s rights in its Eagle trademark.
In making the announcement, Coley Brady, Heartland’s director of sales and marketing, said, “Even though Heartland believes its Eagle Ridge line does not infringe upon Jayco’s Eagle trademark, we did not have a significant investment in Eagle Ridge as a name for our fifth-wheel travel trailers. We understand Jayco’s concern and out of respect for Jayco will no longer offer any products bearing the Eagle Ridge name.”
Sid Johnson, director of marketing for Middlebury-Ind.-based Jayco, said, “Jayco has used the Eagle name for nearly 20 years on some of our most popular RV product lines. We are grateful that Heartland is willing to change the name of its new product line to address our concerns in protecting our valuable EAGLE trademark.”
An attorney/writer for the “Indiana Intellectual Property & Technology Law Blog” sees “a settlement opportunity” in the trademark infringement suit filed by Jayco Inc. against Heartland Recreational Vehcles LLC.
Jayco Inc. headquartered in Middlebury, Ind., is suing Elkhart, Ind.-based Heartland for trademark infringement and unfair competitive practices. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana.
The suit alleges Heartland has violated federal trademark law by adopting the Eagle Ridge name for a line of vehicles. Jayco claims to hold trademark rights in the EAGLE trademark since at least 1991.
The suit is based on common-law trademark rights, as a federal trademark application was only filed by Jayco on March 9, 2009.
“Heartland filed an intent-to-use federal trademark application for Eagle Ridge on Sept. 26, 2008. It was published for opposition on Feb. 17, which was probably the catalyst that brought Heartland’s intentions to the attention of Jayco (or Jayco’s attorney),” the blogger, Kenan L. Farrell, writes. Farrell is founder of KLF Legal, Indianapolis, which advises small business owners, non-profits, entrepreneurs and artists on intellectual property and business law.
Jayco’s complaint demands that Heartland pay it all profits from Eagle Ridge products and stop using the Eagle Ridge name immediately.
“I didn’t see any Eagle Ridge products on Heartland’s website, so the product line was either never initiated or it has already been pulled,” he stated.
The first to use a mark in commerce is generally the owner of that mark, Farrell states. “The primary exception is when an ITU (intent to use) application for a similar mark is filed prior to the adoption and use of the mark by another. However, since Jayco has used the Eagle mark since 1991, they almost certainly can claim priority rights. Whether Eagle Ridge causes a likelihood of confusion with Jayco’s Eagle mark will be determined by the court.
“The goods (recreational vehicles) are very similar, so my suspicion is that the court would lean toward a conclusion that confusion exists.
“This case feels like a settlement opportunity, particularly since Heartland doesn’t appear to have too much invested in their Eagle Ridge product line,” Farrell concluded.