Harley sues t-shirt maker SunFrog

Complaint says Michigan-based firm’s infringement process inadequate

Harley-Davidson is accusing Michigan-based online retailer SunFrog of selling “hundreds, if not thousands” of products with the Milwaukee-based company’s trademarks and logos on them.

Examples of allegedly infringing t-shirt designs sold on SunFrog. Source: Court documents.

In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Wisconsin, Harley says it has submitted more than 70 complaints to SunFrog since October 2016 that notified the company about Harley’s trademark right and reported more than 800 infringing products.

SunFrog describes itself as the “world’s largest direct-to-garment online t-shirt platform.” According to the lawsuit, sellers are able to upload designs to SunFrog’s website to create new products to sell or select from existing designs. The complaint says SunFrog receives 54.5 percent of the retail price and sellers receive 40 percent, plus an additional 5.5 percent if the uploaded the design.

SunFrog did not immediately respond for requests for comment on the lawsuit.

Harley’s complaint says SunFrog responded to Harley’s objections with a statement indicating the design was deactivated and should no longer be available. The complaint adds that it typically took two to three days or as long as seven days for a design to be deactivated.

The complaint says the process is “wholly inadequate” to prevent infringements on Harley’s trademarks, noting it doesn’t stop the company from fulfilling existing orders.

“SunFrog’s contract with its sellers expressly permit it to fulfill orders for removed products and keep all proceeds from products that are the subject of infringement complaints,” the complaint says.

Harley also alleges SunFrog continues to use the Harley name in URLs to boost web traffic and allows users who repeatedly infringe on trademarks to continue selling, in some cases with identical designs.

The lawsuit makes a total of seven claims against SunFrog and its sellers. Harley is seeking an order blocking SunFrog from producing or selling products with Harley trademarks, requiring the destruction of existing products and payment for corrective advertising. The company is also seeking statutory, compensatory and punitive damages from SunFrog.

This is not the first time Harley has sued a clothing company for infringing on its trademarks. The company has twice gone to court with Urban Outfitters and also sued Forever 21 and online retailer GearLaunch last year.

Harley has generally declined to comment on the lawsuits, except to say it is important for the company to protect its brand. The complaint in the SunFrog case cites Interbrand data estimating Harley’s brand is worth $5.46 billion.

Harley spokeswoman Katie Whitmore said the company did not have anything additional to add regarding the SunFrog case.

Harley-Davidson is accusing Michigan-based online retailer SunFrog of selling “hundreds, if not thousands” of products with the Milwaukee-based company’s trademarks and logos on them.

Examples of allegedly infringing t-shirt designs sold on SunFrog. Source: Court documents.

In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Wisconsin, Harley says it has submitted more than 70 complaints to SunFrog since October 2016 that notified the company about Harley’s trademark right and reported more than 800 infringing products.

SunFrog describes itself as the “world’s largest direct-to-garment online t-shirt platform.” According to the lawsuit, sellers are able to upload designs to SunFrog’s website to create new products to sell or select from existing designs. The complaint says SunFrog receives 54.5 percent of the retail price and sellers receive 40 percent, plus an additional 5.5 percent if the uploaded the design.

SunFrog did not immediately respond for requests for comment on the lawsuit.

Harley’s complaint says SunFrog responded to Harley’s objections with a statement indicating the design was deactivated and should no longer be available. The complaint adds that it typically took two to three days or as long as seven days for a design to be deactivated.

The complaint says the process is “wholly inadequate” to prevent infringements on Harley’s trademarks, noting it doesn’t stop the company from fulfilling existing orders.

“SunFrog’s contract with its sellers expressly permit it to fulfill orders for removed products and keep all proceeds from products that are the subject of infringement complaints,” the complaint says.

Harley also alleges SunFrog continues to use the Harley name in URLs to boost web traffic and allows users who repeatedly infringe on trademarks to continue selling, in some cases with identical designs.

The lawsuit makes a total of seven claims against SunFrog and its sellers. Harley is seeking an order blocking SunFrog from producing or selling products with Harley trademarks, requiring the destruction of existing products and payment for corrective advertising. The company is also seeking statutory, compensatory and punitive damages from SunFrog.

This is not the first time Harley has sued a clothing company for infringing on its trademarks. The company has twice gone to court with Urban Outfitters and also sued Forever 21 and online retailer GearLaunch last year.

Harley has generally declined to comment on the lawsuits, except to say it is important for the company to protect its brand. The complaint in the SunFrog case cites Interbrand data estimating Harley’s brand is worth $5.46 billion.

Harley spokeswoman Katie Whitmore said the company did not have anything additional to add regarding the SunFrog case.

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