Thursday, January 6, 2011, 1:13 PM

WEEKENDS No Time Off For Arkansas Furniture Retailers

Two Jonesboro, Arkansas furniture retailers are in litigation over the use of the term "WEEKENDS" in their store names.  On December 17, 2010, Christopher Gamble, owner of a furniture store doing business as "Weekends" sued Furniture Row, LLC and Furniture Row USA, LCC for adding the term "Weekends" to the name of their store approximately six miles from Gamble's store thus naming the store "Weekends at Furniture Row."  (Civil Action No. 3:10-cv-323 (E.D. Ark.)).

The complaint reveals that Gamble does not have a federal trademark registration and only obtained a state registration after defendants changed their store's name.  While without the benefits of a federal registration, Gamble apparently has collected over 30 instances of actual confusion.  Presuming those instances of confusion are admissible, this case demonstrates how a common law mark can potentially be protected without a federal registration.  Of course, the better course of action is seek and obtain a federal registration in most cases.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Bruce Buchanan said...

Sure does seem like a deliberate attempt to confuse consumers to this legal layman.

While I've never been furniture shopping in Arkansas, does the "Weekends" name really carry that much cache? How much did Furniture Row stand to gain simply by appropriating the name of a local competitor (when they presumably didn't also adopt the prices, customer service, and other aspects of doing business that have made that competitor successful)? Seems like they created unnecessary legal headaches for themselves.

January 21, 2011 at 1:12 PM  
Blogger Jake Wharton said...

This is a good example of a retailer attempting to trade off of "initial interest confusion." In other words, they want to generate just enough confusion to get the customer through the door. The fact that the consumer realizes they are in different store may not matter at that point. I agree with the comment that the infringing retailer is creating a legal headache for themselves. Indeed, they are looking at a finding of willful infringement if the facts are proven as true.

January 23, 2011 at 4:24 PM  
Anonymous bail bonds henderson nv said...

I never thought about it, but yes, furniture design does encompass plenty of intellectual property rights.

January 27, 2011 at 12:29 AM  

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