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Clothing company wailing over whale design


That happy whales can only live on T-shirts sold by Vineyard Vines is at the heart of a lawsuit filed by the national clothing and accessories brand against companies creating and selling T-shirts with a drawing of a smiling whale.

Vineyard Vines is alleging trademark infringement against Mountain Tops Inc., an Arundel, Maine-based T-shirt company, and its supplier Detroit Lakes, Minnesota-based wholesaler Lakeshirts Inc., or Blue 84, for allegedly knowingly and intentionally mimicking the trademarked smiling cartoon whale design, the Press Herald reported Tuesday. 

According to the lawsuit, accessed by the newspaper, the “striking and otherwise unnecessary similarities” between the two whales, both featuring “a smiling whimsical left-facing anthropomorphic whale with an eye above its smile and an upwardly lifted tail fin,” are “mimicry” that can cause “irreparable harm” to Vineyard Vines.

The lawsuit claims Vineyard Vines is “well known for its colorful, nautical and whimsical designs on its clothing products” and its whale, “an iconic symbol representing the Vineyard Vines clothing brand.” The owner of the clothing store Mountain Tops, meanwhile, says all they did was buy T-shirts from a supplier and that, learning of the litigation, they removed the clothing from racks: “We simply bought the shirts from a vendor.… We did not design them. They are not custom.”

The supplier has not commented on the suit.






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