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Hit And Tervis Tumbler In Legal Dispute
Vol. 833 
July 14, 2011

Counselor Top 40 supplier Hit Promotional Products (asi/61125) was recently served with a cease and desist letter from Tervis Tumbler Co. (asi/90914), sparking a lawsuit and a fight over trademark rights. At issue are tumblers sold to Hit by manufacturer Williams Industries, a competitor to Florida-based Tervis.

According to the letter, which is now part of a federal court filing in the Southern District of Indiana, Tervis alleges Hit "deceived and misled customers who pay for [its] products into believing that such products are those of Tervis." In addition, Tervis further alleges "a violation of state and federal trademark and unfair competition laws." Tervis has demanded Hit essentially end its relationship with Williams and provide a record of all profits earned through the sale of the "infringing" items. In the letter, Tervis threatens legal action against Hit unless the supplier complies.

Court documents show, after receiving the letter, Hit suspended orders from Williams. That prompted Williams to file a suit against Tervis, claiming "substantial harm and irreparable injury." In its lawsuit, Williams is seeking to invalidate trademark registrations owned by Tervis.

While Tervis has argued the "horizontal line" design on its plastic tumblers is trademarked, Williams contends the pattern is generic. Further, Williams is claiming in its suit that Tervis made wrongful statements in applying for a trademark, falsely representing it was the exclusive user of the "horizontal" design. According to Williams, at least one other company – Minnesota-based Signature, USA – used an "essentially identical design on essentially identical products" at the time Tervis claimed exclusivity.

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