Tractor-maker Deere & Co. won a ruling Oct. 13 to stop a competitor from using its trademark green-and-yellow color scheme on agricultural equipment throughout the U.S.
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky found that Fimco Inc., which sells agricultural equipment under the name “Ag Spray Equipment,” intentionally chose green and yellow to create an association with Deere’s brand as the maker of John Deere tractors. The court permanently barred Fimco from using the Deere colors ( Deere & Co. v. Fimco Inc. , W.D. Ky., No. 15-105, 10/13/17 ).
Deere won on its federal claims of trademark infringement, unfair competition, and trademark dilution, as well as its trademark infringement claim under Kentucky state law.
The decision shows a company can assert trademark protection in colors, as well as names and logos, if it can show that consumers have come to recognize the colors as indicating the origin of the goods. Deere has unsuccessfully asserted rights in green by itself in the past, but it now holds several federal trademark registrations for green and yellow together.
The court earlier this year rejected Fimco’s argument that people don’t buy its green-and-yellow equipment because they’re attracted to the John Deere brand, but because customers want their new purchases to match their Deere tractors.
The court Oct. 13 rejected Fimco’s argument that green and yellow were “the color[s] of agriculture,” and it noted that at trial even Fimco’s CEO referred to the combination as “the John Deere colors.”
The court said that Fimco could use green by itself, yellow by itself, or either color combined with other colors, but no combination of yellow and green.
Judge Thomas B. Russell issued the court’s ruling.
Neither Deere nor Fimco immediately responded to Bloomberg Law requests for comment.
Dinsmore & Shohl LLP and Covington & Burling LLP represented Deere. Koley Jessen PC and Whitlow, Roberts, Houston & Straub PLLC represented Fimco.
To contact the reporter on this story: Anandashankar Mazumdar in Washington at AMazumdar@bna.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at email@example.com
Text is available at http://src.bna.com/tn7
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)