The National Hockey League’s trademark lawsuit against a company accused of selling a Stanley Cup-shaped beer stein survived elimination.
The NHL sufficiently pleaded that The Hockey Cup LLC sells a clear plastic beer stein that infringes its Stanley Cup trademark, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said, rejecting the company’s motion for dismissal.
The Hockey Cup argued that the cup portion of hockey’s ultimate prize can function as a drinking vessel. Functional features, which improve the quality or cost of a product, can’t be claimed as trade dress, which allows a company to claim that a product’s design or packaging functions like a trademark.
But the court said Jan. 8 the NHL’s lawsuit included enough information on the trade dress’s non-functional use to proceed.The complaint includes trademark dilution claims, which can reach across specific classes of goods to broadly protect famous marks. It also alleges another of the three companies named in the suit sells counterfeit jerseys that infringes the copyrighted NHL Shield logo, along with other trademarks.
The NHL said in its July complaint that The Hockey Cup’s mug, marketing and packaging infringe on its various trademarks on the Stanley Cup. The stein comes in a black box the NHL says resembles the Stanley Cup’s sticker-covered carrying case, complete with its own stickers that infringe NHL team logos.
The products are “poorly designed and made cheaply,” which damages the NHL’s reputation, the complaint said. The NHL asked the court to seize the infringing goods, bar future use of the marks, and award monetary damages and attorney fees.
The court denied a bid by The Hockey Cup and its related companies to transfer the case to their home state of Illinois or dismiss it based on jurisdiction. But the NHL’s New York City headquarters, The Hockey Cup’s internet sales in New York and the lawsuit’s state law claims all weighed against transfer, the court said.
The court also denied a bid to dismiss trademark dilution claims, which require a mark to be famous among the general public. The NHL cited news articles to back its claim that the Stanley Cup is “recognized as one of the greatest and most celebrated—if not the most celebrated—individual trophy in sports,” the court said.
Judge Denise L. Cote wrote the opinion.
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP represent the NHL. The Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian LLC and Law Offices of John R. Mungo represent the defendants.
The case is Nat’l Hockey League v. The Hockey Cup LLC, 2019 BL 6024, S.D.N.Y., No. 18-6597, 1/8/19