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Goat Sues Former Seller Over ‘Confusingly Similar’ Trademark

Goat Group took legal action against a brand that once sold on its streetwear marketplace, claiming trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising.

In a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Friday, Goat alleges that the similarly named Green Goat, LLC uses a “confusingly similar” trademark on identical and/or closely related goods including apparel and accessories, as well as its e-commerce site and social media accounts.

The plaintiff said that Green Goat’s actions “threaten to usurp Goat’s hard-earned goodwill” with consumers.

Goat said the defendants, which include Green Goat, co-founders Mario Tovar and Eric Gates, as well as 10 other unnamed employees, are harming its business by engaging in false advertising and misleading consumers into purchasing defendants’ products.

Goat, which also accused the e-commerce retailer of stealing customers and sales away from its own business, did not respond to Sourcing Journal’s request for comment.

Green Goat, which also did not reply to requests for comment on the lawsuit, launched its golf-themed clothing and apparel company in 2020. But Goat says that the e-commerce retailer knew of its trademark since it had previously sold its products on the marketplace.

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It wasn’t until Green Goat was aware of the trademark, Goat claims, that it launched a full-scale brand with registered domain names and social media accounts, and later filed several trademark applications that incorporate “the entirety of the Goat mark.”

Another unique wrench in the lawsuit is the role of an affiliated partner retailer, Streetwear Official.

Goat claims that the defendants used the Green Goat trademark and website to redirect consumers to Streetwear Official, where they can purchase apparel from brands including Supreme, Balenciaga, Adidas, Bape and more. All of these are brands that Goat sells on its marketplace, which is known for both sneaker drops and streetwear apparel.

“Indeed, not only are the brands identical, but many of the products being sold are identical as well,” according to the complaint.

Streetwear Official also sells apparel and accessories that bear the Green Goat trademark.

“In light of Goat’s renown, online presence, and long history of providing goods and services under the Goat Marks, Goat is understandably concerned that consumers will likely be confused and mistakenly believe that defendants and their goods and/or services are endorsed, approved, or sponsored by, or affiliated, connected, or associated with, Goat,” the complaint read.

And “as a further attempt to capitalize upon the Goat brand,” Green Goat has even dropped “Green” in the labeling of products such as the G.O.A.T snapback hat and the GOAT half-zip pullover, which both include a picture of the green goat that also serves as the brand logo. Goat’s current logo notably doesn’t include any imagery of the animal bearing its name.

Goat’s trademark battle with Green Goat dates back to November 2021, when the plaintiff initially tried to block the first application the defendant filed nearly a year prior. Eight months later, after sending Green Goat a letter and follow-up correspondence to address its concerns, Goat filed an opposition to the additional trademark applications.

According to the lawsuit, Green Goat filed an answer to Goat’s opposition, and this action is pending before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

“Defendants’ refusal to cease using the Green Goat Mark unfortunately comes as no surprise,” read the lawsuit complaint. “Indeed, defendants are serial violators of 18 intellectual property rights, which is further evidence that defendants are willfully 19 violating Goat’s trademark rights.”

At the time, Green Goat argued that “there is no likelihood of confusion, mistake, or deception” between its mark and those held by Goat, and that “the word ‘Goat’ either alone or in combination with other words, designs or symbols is widely used in the marketplace by third parties in conjunction with the sale of ‘apparel’ and other similar goods in the U.S.”

Counsel for Green Goat said that several registrations exist for marks that incorporate the word “Goat” in combination with other words or designs for use on apparel and footwear, such as Goat Powered, Goat Blue, Surfing Goat and Island Goat. The defendant argued last year that Goat’s trademarks are “incredibly weak, and cannot serve as a basis for a finding of consumer confusion against another mark, even when used on similar class of goods or services, that is not completely identical to it.”

The resale marketplace claims that consumers would not have purchased or accessed Green Goat’s goods and services without false advertising. Goat claims the defendants are using the Green Goat Mark to make false and misleading statements about their sales, their website traffic and the cost of their products.

The plaintiff alleges that Green Goat is creating a false sense of scarcity among consumers, which could cause consumers to purchase products from the site.

Green Goat’s website popups in 2021 to 2022, for example, purported to show consumer purchases of defendants’ products in real time, such as “someone recently bought a G.O.A.T. Snapback 55 minutes ago, from New York U.S.”

But these popups did not show legitimate sales, according to Goat, showing consumers the same cycle of popups over and over.

Goat also pointed out that consumers were shown the number of other shoppers who were allegedly viewing that same product in real time. But the plaintiff claimed Green Goat used an algorithm on its website which randomly generated a number of “customers” who were described as looking at those products.

Goat attempted to reconcile its concerns with the alleged false advertising by sending a letter on March 28, 2022, demanding that the golf apparel seller take down the popups, as well as the number of consumers listed on the site. Green Goat stopped “for a brief period of time,” but resumed shortly after.

The company also advertised coupon codes to make their products appear on sale, but Goat pointed out that these codes are available to everyone.

“By advertising coupon codes to make their products appear on sale (e.g., 30 percent off), defendants are misleading consumers into believing that they are getting a bargain or good deal,” the lawsuit complaint read. “In reality, consumers are not getting a deal at all, since the coupon codes are always available and Defendants’ products are never sold at their original price (i.e., the inflated price). Yet consumers are unaware of defendants’ deceitful marketing tactics, so they are purchasing defendants’ products under the mistaken perception of getting a bargain.”

Representatives at the plaintiff’s counsel, Latham & Watkins LLP, did not respond to Sourcing Journal’s request for comment.