Apparel Company Sues L.L. Bean

KUHL, a Salt Lake City clothing company, has accused outdoor apparel retailer L.L. Bean of trademark violation related to the Maine-based company’s new “Be An Outsider” ad campaign. KÜHL believes the campaign infringes on its trademark “The Outsider,” which was registered in June of 2015. The company filed a lawsuit on October 2 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah Central Division under Alfwear, KÜHL’s former name.

In a press release, the $200 million KÜHL dubbed itself one of the largest privately held apparel brands in the outdoor industry. The company said it sells roughly one million pairs of pants each year, including “The Outsider” style. In the lawsuit, KÜHL demands that L.L. Bean remove the use of “Be An Outsider” from all publications, advertisements and websites, and deliver and destroy all literature, labels and other materials it owns bearing the phrase. KÜHL is seeking triple the amount of any profits L.L. Bean has made from the campaign, as well as triple damages. 

A spokeswoman for L.L. Bean told the Bangor Daily News that the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation. “However, we firmly believe we are well within our legal rights to use the call to action Be An Outsider and look forward to resolving this issue,” added Carolyn Beem.

L.L. Bean’s website currently features a collage of photos of people enjoying outdoor activities along with text that includes, “Welcome to the Outside…You don’t need a passport to come here, an invitation to play here or a membership to belong here…So wherever you are, join us. Because on the inside, we’re all outsiders. And if it’s outside, we’re all in. L.L. Bean. Be an Outsider.” The text also invites customers to share their experiences on social media using the hashtag #BeanOutsider.