Skullcandy, Inc., a company that makes clothing, accessories, and jewelry, and specializes in headphones, has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against Skelanimals, LLC for trademark infringement. Both companies use a black and white skull in their branding. Skelanimals is a line of products based on “adorable little animals who have met an untimely end, mostly due to their own reckless and ill-advised behavior,” according to the company’s website. Their marks appear on clothing, plush toys, backpacks, and alarm clocks, along with other products. Skullcandy has used its trademark since 2003, while Skelanimals has been around since 2008.
What were the grounds of the lawsuit, and if you saw the two sets of products, would you think they came from the same company? Read on…
Skullcandy’s complaint is based upon Skelanimals’ use of “various skull logos in association with at least headphones, earphones, mp3 players, portable media players, digital audio players, and protective helmets…clothing, including at least t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats…bags, including at least backpacks, book bags, sports bags,and handbags…[and] wallets.” Skullcandy claims that Skelanimals’s images are “likely to cause confusion or deceive the consuming public.” While both companies place their trademarks on similar items, such as clothing, Skelanimals’s brand only seemed to become a problem to Skullcandy once they placed their trademark on headphones. Skullcandy claims their trademark is known globally, especially in connection with headphones. It is interesting to note that the marketing approaches for each company are distinct – Skullcandy aims at young males and the extreme sports crowd, while Skelanimals directs their marketing towards mostly children and pre-teens.
Take a look at some of the examples of the two brands’ products – if you encountered them in a store or online, would you assume they came from the same company?