The Ninth Circuit Court in the United States (US) has reversed a lower court's dismissal of a suit by Solid 21 Inc., which sells the work of designer Chris Aire, accusing Breitling USA Inc. of infringing on Chris Aire's Red Gold® trademark.
The case, filed by Solid 21 Inc. on behalf of Chris Aire Fine Jewelry and Timepieces, is one of 15 cases Chris Aire had filed in January 2011 to protect the company's Red Gold® mark. In the lawsuits, Chris Aire accused Breitling, Swatch, Bulgari, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and several other watch brands of using the Red Gold® trademark despite the fact that his company has held a trademark registration certificate for Red Gold since 2003. The Patent and Trademark office had also deemed the trademark incontestable as far back as 2007. Since obtaining his trademark, Chris Aire has expended millions of dollars to brand the mark and create demand for it in the marketplace via tastemakers and other celebrities.
In ruling for Chris Aire, the Ninth Circuit held that US District Judge Gary A. Fess had erred in ruling that the Red Gold mark was generic and not protectable. "Solid 21's federal registration of its trademark constitutes prima facie evidence of the mark's validity."
"This ruling reaffirms that we live in the greatest country in the world and that the rule of law bends towards truth and justice," Chris Aire noted. "I am truly grateful to the Ninth Circuit judges and the American legal system for reaffirming my faith that the law protects us all. We've worked very hard to build our brand within the confines of the law, and no company should be allowed to just come in and take that away from us. We are not trying to monopolise the look - we simply want to protect our brand, our name and our work. The ruling by the Ninth Circuit shows that no company, however large and powerful, is above the law."
Given this reversal, Breitling must now return to the District Court to once again try to circumvent Chris Aire's Red Gold® trademark, a daunting task given the Ninth Circuit's admonition that Chris Aire "has submitted supporting documentation indicating that its Red Gold® mark is registered in accordance with the Lanham Act".