Last week Australia’s Full Federal Court handed down a judgment negating a previous decision to ban Knott Investments Pty Ltd from using the Winnebago brand name.
According to an analysis by the Association of Corporate Counsel, it will have significant implications for the way brand owners think about protecting their brands in Australia. “The decision illustrates the weaknesses in seeking to protect brands without trade mark registrations and how even a successful claim may not result in clear protection of an unregistered brand, particularly where there is delay,” the publication stated.
The case was brought by Winnebago Industries Inc., the well-known U.S.-based RV builder, against Australian-based Knott, that had adopted and used the Winnebago brand in Australia.
Knott went on to use the brand for over 25 years until legal proceedings were filed by Winnebago for passing off and contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law. Winnebago opted not to take action because it had not decided to expand its business to Australia at the time. Subsequently the parties entered into an agreement to preserve their positions pending any future litigation.
The trial judge found that Knott had deliberately adopted the Winnebago brand, following a visit to the U.S. to take advantage of Winnebago’s reputation. There was also a finding that Winnebago had a sufficient reputation in Australia to bring an action for passing off to restrain the use of the Winnebago brand.
The judge granted an injunction preventing Knott from using the Winnebago mark and ordered that Knott’s registered trade mark be canceled (as well as other associated non-pecuniary relief).
Knott appealed, claiming among other things that relief should be limited because of Winnebago’s delay in bringing the action. The Full Federal Court allowed the appeal and in a second judgment imposed its own formulation of relief, in more limited terms than the relief ordered by the trial judge.
The Full Court highlighted the fundamental difference between a claim for trade mark infringement and claims for passing off and misleading or deceptive conduct. Whereas the former is directed to preventing confusion about trade origin, the latter is directed at whether members of the public are likely to be misled. This more limited enquiry frames the way in which the Court will approach relief.
The court decided to allow Knott to use the Winnebago mark, as long as a clear and prominent disclaimer was used near the mark, making clear that the two businesses were not associated. The court drafted the terms of the disclaimer. Knott was also ordered to require purchasers or hirers of its products to sign a disclaimer acknowledging that there was no association between the businesses.
To read the entire article click here.
Winnebago Industries will no longer be “cautiously optimistic” about the motor home industry and the Forest City, Iowa-based company’s outlook on revenues and profit, Randy Potts, chief executive officer, president and chairman of the board said Thursday (Oct. 17).
“We’re ready to drop ‘cautiously’ …” Potts said.
The Globe Gazette, Mason City, reported that the company has rebounded from the recession of the past few years, Potts said, as he described the motor home industry and Winnebago’s outlook on revenues and profit.
Winnebago increased its operating income by more than 350% in the fiscal year 2013 from the fiscal year 2012. The company reported operating income of $44.4 million for fiscal year 2013, compared with $9.5 million for fiscal year 2012.
In the fourth quarter alone, the company more than doubled its operating income from the same quarter in fiscal year 2012. Winnebago reported an operating income of $15.3 million for the quarter, versus $6.5 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2012.
The fourth quarter ended on Aug. 31.
“We knocked it out of the park in the fourth quarter,” Potts said.
“The fourth quarter is an exclamation point to a very successful and profitable fiscal year 2013,” Winnebago’s CFO Sarah Nielsen said.
Winnebago is selling more motorhomes including new 2014 models that are being manufactured now, Potts and Nielsen said.
“We had 30% more deliveries in this fourth quarter than in the fourth quarter of 2012, Potts said. “Our annual delivery is the highest we’ve experienced in five years.”
While there has been growth, Nielsen and Potts said the company continues to deal with a shortage in supply of some Class A model chassis. Potts said the shortage should be reduced this winter.
The model area is a growth area, Nielsen said. “For us to capitalize on that, the supply constraint needs to be resolved.”
Nielsen said the company continues to make investments in efficiencies including ways to eliminate some labor needs in production. It also plans to upgrade its information technology system.
To read the full report click here.
Sales of recreational vehicles are up. As reported by Investors Business Daily (IBD), RV shipments for the year through July improved 13% from the same period last year, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
The industry continues to recover from the Great Recession, having suffered some of the same meltdown as the housing market. Motorhomes are considered second homes for tax purposes, and many buyers take out mortgages.
So with growth returning and earnings rising, it’s no surprise that the Building-Mobile/Manufactured Home industry group is ranked 19th out of 197 industry groups tracked by IBD. It has seven members, but only three have significant ratings.
• Thor Industries (THO) is the No. 1 company in the business, with a composite rating of 96. It makes RVs under the Airstream and other brand names. It has an EPS rating of 96. Earnings grew 24% in the April-ended quarter, and analysts are forecasting a 13% increase in the next report. They’re expecting a 26% growth rate for the full year and a 17% increase next year.
The stock has recently carved out a flat base that has corrected 12%. All the companies in the group are thinly traded. Thor is the most active, trading 362,000 shares a day.
• Winnebago Industries (WGO) is the second-strongest stock in the group, with a composite rating of 95. It lost money in 2008 and 2009, but is recovering. Earnings last quarter rose 108% and are expected to rise 93% to 27 cents a share in the current August-ended quarter. It also is building the right side of a base. The stock’s average daily volume is 229,000 shares.
• A third company in the group, Drew Industries (DW), has strong earnings growth over the past three years. It trades a mere 89,000 shares a day. Drew is parent to suppliers Lippert Components Inc. and Kinro Inc.
The Winnebago Adventurer and Itasca Suncruiser motorhomes continue to deliver “diesel pusher style in the convenience and affordability of a Class A gas coach,” according to a press release.
The lines are available in four floorplans, including the new triple slideout 38Q with multiple HDTVs and a front lounge with sectional sofa. High-end features include Ultraleather furniture, MCD solar/blackout roller shades, and LED lighting while a restyled front cap, full-body paint and optional Contour windows set off the exterior.
• New, contemporary exterior styling: new front cap and logos.
• TrueAir Maximum Comfort A/C.
• Corian galley countertops and Corian sink covers.
• Radio with color rearview monitor system.
• Power mirrors with defrost and integrated side view cameras.
• Powered patio awning with metal wrap and integrated LED patio lighting.
• New convenient exterior LPG accessory connection near patio area.
• Automatic hydraulic leveling jacks with three-position controls
The coach is powered by a Ford F53 super-duty V10 SEFI Triton engine with GVWR’s of 22,000 pounds (32H and 35P), 24,000 pounds (standard 37F, available 35P) and 26,000 pounds (38Q). The models are also equipped with 22.5-inch tires, stylized aluminum wheels, and a 5,000-pound hitch.
The 32H lives much larger than its 33-foot-3-inch length with a driver’s side full-wall slide expanding the living area. Highlights of this dual-slideout coach include an open-concept galley, spacious mid-coach bath, U-shaped dinette or optional Rest Easy sofa, sofa/bed or optional BenchMark Dinette, queen size walk-around bed and a large wardrobe and chest of drawers.
The 35P features three slideouts, including a full-wall slide on the driver’s side. This impressive floorplan features a BenchMark dinette or the optional BenchMark Dinette with extendable table and chairs, Rest Easy Sofa, open concept galley and mid-coach bath. The master bedroom has storage galore with a large wardrobe, and chest of drawers flanking the large king bed.
The 37F is a triple-slide floorplan with an expansive full wall slide on the driver’s side of the coach featuring an extendable dining table and chairs, an open concept galley with four-door refrigerator or optional residential refrigerator and wardrobe and chest of drawers for the bedroom. A RestEasy sofa and Euro recliner are in a slideout opposite the dinette, while the 37F also features a half bath across from the galley. The master bath is in the rear of the coach featuring the one-piece fiberglass BIG shower. A powered king bed is standard and a powered queen bed is optional.
New 38Q Floorplan
The new 38Q features a triple slideout floorplan, creating three separate living zones, including a spacious lounge area with a Rest Easy extendable sectional sofa, a large corner TV with optional fireplace and a Euro recliner. The mid-coach galley features an island sink and stainless steel French door residential refrigerator with interior water and ice dispenser and glide-out, bottom freezer drawer. The 38Q also features the new “Glide and Dine” dining table which allows horizontal adjustment of the table to any of the numerous locking positions, as well as expansion of the length of the table to accommodate additional seating positions.
Editor’s Note: The following story comes from Clark Norton, a writer focusing on Baby Boomer travel. When he isn’t on the road, Clark resides with his wife, Catharine, in the town of Narrowsburg on the Delaware River in upstate New York. You can follow his thoughts at www.clarknorton.com.
The recent news that the Winnebago company — which makes motorhomes — nearly doubled its profits in the 2013 spring quarter is just the latest indication that the Baby Boomer recreational vehicle boom is in full gear.
Winnebago motorhome sales jumped more than 50% in the same quarter, while trailer sales jumped 10%.
Some 9 million U.S. households — 8.5% — now own RVs, and the number is growing rapidly. One out of every six U.S. households say they have future plans to buy an RV.
Baby Boomers — the youngest of whom are now nearly 50 years old — are Winnebago’s and other RV manufacturers’ biggest customers. And with many of the oldest Boomers (now 67) retiring or nearing retirement, they’re devoting more and more time to travel.
RV owners average more than a month of travel annually, racking up nearly 5,000 miles a year on the road.
Motorhomes — which many Baby Boomers make their primary residences after selling their family homes — are becoming increasingly luxurious, offering everything from spacious kitchens and bathrooms to fireplaces and flat-screen TVs. Sleeping areas may fit king-sized beds and dining areas a comfortably sized table.
Price tags can range up to hundreds of thousands of dollars — but then again, so do prices for regular houses (and many sell in the $100,000 range, with trailers and truck campers selling for much less) . Fuel costs can be substantial, but the money saved from hotels, motels and restaurants while traveling more than makes up for high gasoline prices.
As you might imagine, catering to RV owners is big business, beyond the RV manufacturers themselves. Some 16,000 U.S. campgrounds, both private and public, welcome RVs. Campgrounds can be found in or near cities, park lands, historic sites and other attractions — just as convenient as hotels and motels.
Many of the private campgrounds, especially, defy the old stereotypes of rustic living. These days, facilities may include swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts, spas, grocery stores, and evening entertainments. Some operate like time shares, but are not limited to just a few weeks a year as long as you keep moving periodically.
I don’t own an RV myself, though my wife and I have rented a couple of them in Australia and found them to be great for touring the rural and beach areas there — but less convenient in the urban areas, where I’d just as soon settle into a hotel.
But I also understand the allure of taking your home with you on the open road — with the flexibility to stay in a place you like or pick up and move on a whim as well — and more and more Boomers are doing just that.
Travel products that help make life easier and more affordable for the booming Baby Boomer RV market are going to do very well indeed as more and more Boomers reach retirement.
Camping World Inc. received 47 awards at the recent Winnebago Industries Inc. Dealer Days Event in Las Vegas, including the award for “Top Multi-Location Winnebago Retailer” for 2012.
According to a press release, Camping World also secured its position as the largest Winnebago retailer with over $175 million in Winnebago Industries sales for 2012. Currently Camping World accounts for an estimated 28% of all Winnebago Industries new motorized unit sales.
Camping World was also recognized for receiving 26 Circle of Excellence awards, four Partners in Excellence Awards for top market share in their respective regions, 15 Top Rank Sales Awards, and the New Dealer of the Year Award for Camping World RV of Lake City, Fla.
“We are pleased to again be recognized as Winnebago’s ‘Top Retailer of the Year’ in addition to recently accepting multiple top achievement awards from Winnebago,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World. “We are thrilled that Camping World RV dealers made an important contribution in Winnebago’s business growth and we look forward to continued success with this partnership throughout the ongoing year.”
“Being awarded and recognized by Winnebago in so many categories is exceptional,” said Roger Nuttall, president of Camping World RV Sales. “We value our partnership with Winnebago Industries and remain committed to the highest levels of customer satisfaction in every level of our business.”
Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago Industries Inc. has named Kelli Harms to the position of marketing and sales promotion manager, according to a press release.
In her new position, Harms is responsible for marketing activities including print and online advertising, social media, as well as shows and events.
A 14-year veteran of Winnebago, Harms previously worked as a marketing and public relations specialist where she assisted in advertising, direct mail and media planning duties, as well as public relations functions, such as media and community relations, test drives, product promotion and product placement.
Harms earned her master and bachelor’s from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) in Cedar Falls, Iowa, in communications/public relations. She also holds the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) distinction from the Public Relations Society of America.
Editor’s Note: The following is a blog from New York Times contributor Ezra Dyer offering a first-hand account of his experience driving a Winnebago Via on the family vacation.
After five minutes of wrestling with the electronic parking-meter station, I had my receipts to place beneath the windshield wiper. A roving meter maid would see that I had paid for my spot. And the spot next to it. And the one next to that, thus answering the question, “Where do you park a 25-foot Winnebago Via motor coach?” I’ll take spaces 113 through 115, thanks.
This year, the 2013 Via served as transportation for the annual family trip to the beach. We rented a house, but I figured the Winnebago in the driveway would serve as my oasis of solitude, a respite from the perpetual activity in the house. It also would serve as a sort of mega-sport utility vehicle, toting much of the luggage and assorted detritus to fill the six-bedroom rental.
At first blush, the Via seems unfathomably huge and ponderous; it may have only four seat belts, but its rear luggage compartment is bigger than some hotel rooms I’ve stayed in. Within a couple of hours on the road, however, I was throwing it into corners like the overgrown Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van it was.
To read the entire article click here.
Winnebago Industries Inc. is rejecting an unsolicited $321.5 million takeover bid because the offer lacked details, according to an Associated Press report.
Winnebago said Friday (May 18) that the $11 per share cash offer it received from North Street Capital didn’t appear credible, and the offer was dependent on several conditions.
Winnebago officials say they will respond accordingly to North Street if more details about the offer are provided.
Shares of Winnebago jumped 96 cents, or 11%, to $9.89 after news of the takeover bid became public.
During its fiscal second quarter, Winnebago reported a $912,000 loss as it boosted discounts to increase its sales. But company officials have been optimistic about Winebago’s prospects as the economy continues to improve.
North Street Capital is a Greenwich, Conn.-based privately held global investment management and advisory firm. The company invests in high-growth opportunities including leveraged buyouts and recapitalization transactions.
The Winnebago Itasca Travelers (WIT) Club is now inviting SunnyBrook and Winnebago brand towable product owners to become members, including owners of SunnyBrook products built prior to the acquisition of SunnyBrook Manufacturing by Winnebago Industries Inc.
According to a press release, WIT is a club exclusively for owners of Winnebago Industries’ produced RV’s. Members are eligible to join any number of WIT Club affiliations, including national, state, local or special interest clubs, as well as participate in caravans and rallies held throughout North America.
Members also receive numerous RV travel related benefits such as discounts at hundreds of participating campgrounds, professional trip routing, free membership in Pilot Flying J Travel Plaza RV Real Value Club, as well as a subscription to WIT Club News.
“We are very excited to welcome SunnyBrook and Winnebago Towables owners to join the ranks of more than 11,000 Winnebago Industries motorized product owners who are currently members of the WIT Club,” said WIT Club General Manager Doug Formanek. “Since our acquisition of SunnyBrook, we’ve seen a growing interest in offering WIT membership and benefits to towable product owners with the most enthusiast proponents being our existing members.”
Formanek continued, “As we eagerly welcome SunnyBrook and Winnebago towable owners, we are excited about the energy and potential growth they will bring to WIT along with plenty of fun and new friendships.”
Interested SunnyBrook or Winnebago brand towables owners may contact the Winnebago Itasca Travelers Club at 800-643-4892, or at www.winnebagoind.com/clubs/wit.