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Wrangler Scores a Legal ‘W’ in Trademark Opposition

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) sided with Wrangler’s opposition against another denim company that wants to use the letter ‘W’ in their trademark.

In an opinion published on Dec. 3, TTAB said Turkish company Denimci Dis Ticaret Pazarlama Anonim Sirketi’s efforts to register ‘W Denim’ for denim fabric, jeans, dungarees, and other goods conflicts with Wrangler’s ‘W’ registrations for similar products.

Two of the three examples Wrangler provided were stitched ‘Ws,’ such as the ones seen on the back pockets of its jeans. The third was a solid ‘W.’

The Board found consumers were likely to be confused by the mark and therefore sustained Wrangler’s opposition.

Denimci Dis Ticaret Pazarlama Anonim Sirketi filed for the trademark in 2019. In its registration mark request, the company described the illustration as a stylized ‘W’ above the word ‘Denim.’ 

The ‘W’ mimics the appearance of folded jeans, while ‘Denim’ is used as a “generic or descriptive word.” 

However, TTAB said ‘Denim’ does not distinguish the marks.

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The color blue is also claimed as a feature of Denimci Dis Ticaret Pazarlama Anonim Sirketi’s mark. 

Though color is not part of Wrangler’s marks, TTAB said it found the “marks visually and phonetically similar because they consist of or prominently feature the stylized letter W” and added that Wrangler’s marks could appear in the same color. 

While TTAB said Wrangler’s marks are “conceptually strong” it said the brand’s marks are not entitled to the highest degree of commercial strength. Rather the marks should have “broader than normal scope of protection.”

Denim is a litigious industry, however, it’s normally Wrangler’s rival Levi Strauss & Co. fighting to protect its patented red tab trademark.

Last month the company filed a lawsuit against fellow Golden State brand, Hammies, for trademark infringement, dilution and unfair competition. 

Once called a “bully” by British luxury brand Barbour in a 2018 trademark suit for the legal action it takes to protect its tab, Levi’s has sued Yves Saint Laurent, Kenzo, Vineyard Vines, 3×1, and Australian entrepreneur David Conolly for patent infringement in the past few years alone. 

In total, Levi’s has filed more than 300 trademark lawsuits since 1989.