BRADFORD, Pa. -- A German court granted Zippo Manufacturing Co. (ZMC) a temporary injunction against Cygnet UK Trading Ltd., a Lorillard Inc. subsidiary, preventing Cygnet from using the "blu" brand name for its electronic cigarettes sold in that country.
The Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main agreed with ZMC that the "blu" e-cigarette brand creates a likelihood of confusion with ZMC's European Union Community trademark BLU, used in connection with its line of high-performance, precision butane lighters and fuel.
The court found the confusion was due to the high degree of similarity between the marks, an existing similarity between the parties' respective goods and the ZMC BLU mark's "at least" average degree of distinctiveness, according to the announcement made Monday by ZMC.
ZMC's action in Germany and the resulting preliminary injunction against Cygnet is part of ZMC's ongoing, global effort to protect its worldwide portfolio of BLU trademarks. The company has begun proceedings to oppose applications to register or to cancel trademark registrations for the "blu" e-cigarette brand in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Sweden has already rejected outright Lorillard's application to register a trademark for "blu," ZMC noted.
In May, ZMC and its subsidiary ZippMark Inc. sued LOEC Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Greensboro, N.C.-based Lorillard, for trademark infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, as CSNews Online previously reported. The lawsuit seeks to prevent LOEC from selling its blu eCigs in light of Zippo's earlier ownership and use of the BLU trademark. A trial is slated to begin in April.
"I am very pleased that the German court affirmed our legal rights to our intellectual property," said Zippo President and CEO Gregory Booth. "Zippo Manufacturing Co. has invested in innovative technology and trademarked its BLU brands from the beginning, and we are working to vigorously protect all of our marks -- worldwide -- from any misuse by others."
ZMC is represented by attorneys from Squire Patton Boggs LLP (US) in Frankfurt.
Lorillard acquired blu eCigs in April 2012. However, under the terms of the Reynolds American Inc. and Lorillard merger agreement, Imperial Tobacco Group will buy blu eCigs, as well as the Winston, Kool, Salem and Maverick cigarette brands for $7.1 billion.
Bradford-based Zippo Manufacturing Co. is also the maker of the Zippo lighter and owns the RONSON brand of lighters and fuel.