Wal-Mart To Make Case in Court Over Trademark

Wal-Mart To Make Case in Court Over Trademark
Wal-Mart's Casemate brand will (left) face off against Case-Mate Inc in U.S. District Court.

Wal-Mart Stores’ feud with a smartphone case and accessory company has now spilled over into U.S. District Court.

The dispute is over the trademark name “Casemate,” which the Bentonville retailer uses for its line of stationery items.

That’s the similar name that Case-Mate Inc. of Tucker, Georgia, has used since 2006 for what it calls “fashion-forward” protective cases and other electronic devices, according to Wal-Mart’s lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville. Case-Mate has bragged that its customers include the entertainers Fergie, Lucy Hale (of “Pretty Little Liars”) and Selena Gomez.

The problem started after Wal-Mart launched a private-label brand for its stationery products and, starting in 2014, called it Casemate.

In 2015, Case-Mate complained about the similar sounding name to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial & Appeal Board. Case-Mate said Wal-Mart’s Casemate would likely cause confusion for customers.

What’s more, Case-Mate doesn’t want to be associated with Wal-Mart, which is says is “known for goods that are of a quality that is inferior to the stylish, fashion-forward accessories offered by” Case-Mate, Atlanta attorney Bradley Groff said in the filing.

But Wal-Mart said it thinks Case-Mate’s has another goal entirely.

Case-Mate “is pursuing this matter not because of a legitimate fear of confusion, but because it views Walmart as a ‘deep pocket’ from which it can seek a significant amount of money in settlement of this matter,” according to Wal-Mart’s filing.

Wal-Mart’s revenue for its fiscal year that ended Jan. 31 was $482.1 billion and its net income was $14.7 billion.

Wal-Mart wants a judge to say that there’s no confusion between the two names. And it is asking the judge to order that Wal-Mart’s use of Casemate in connection with its stationery products isn’t a trademark infringement on Case-Mate’s trademark.