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Shinesty to Tommy John: Keep Our Ball Hammock Off Your Tighty Whities

Irreverent underwear brand Shinesty is saying “hands off” to intimates competitor Tommy John when it comes to its signature trademark, the Ball Hammock.

On Wednesday, the company sued Tommy John for infringing upon its lucrative men’s underwear business by launching a similarly positioned men’s boxer product with a supportive feature dubbed the “Hammock Pouch.” Shinesty, which registered the Ball Hammock trademark in 2019, called Tommy John’s encroachment on its turf “a brazen move to capitalize on Shinesty’s innovation, creativity, effort and hard-won brand recognition.”

Shinesty’s trademark includes the use of the term “Ball Hammock” for underwear, shorts and men’s swimwear. The business has also grown to include a range of “Hammock Life Clothing,” a term that has also been trademarked for use on including beach cover-ups, sandals, beach footwear, swim caps, T-shirts and hats. That registration was also enacted in February 2019. A patent for the mark, “Hammock,” for use on a range of products including bralettes, blazers, coats, dresses, hats, headbands, kimonos, pajamas, pants, robes, shorts, and more is also pending.

The brand said it made a number of “amicable attempts” to dissuade Tommy John from infringing on its trademark before filing suit, noting that co-founding CEO Chris White reached out to Tom Patterson, Tommy John’s chief executive, and did not receive a response.

“Despite our numerous friendly attempts to protect our trademark by reaching out directly to Tommy John, we’ve been forced to take action,” White said. “We will vigorously protect our bestselling underwear and trademark rights against any competitor, no matter how large.”

Ball Hammock boxer styles marketed on Shinesty's e-commerce site.

Ball Hammock boxer styles marketed on Shinesty’s e-commerce site.

According to White, Shinesty has invested “significant time and resources growing Ball Hammock into the memorable brand it is today,” noting that the product has received editorial accolades from publications like Men’s Health, which called the product the “most comfortable underwear you’ll ever wear” in 2017 when it first launched.

“Ball Hammock underwear is one of our best-selling items, and for good reason,” said Shinesty co-founder and chief marketing officer Jens Nicolaysen, adding that shoppers are drawn not only to the technical design and quality of materials, but to the brand’s cheeky graphics. “As a start-up, we put our hearts into the Ball Hammock brand and product. It’s our crown jewel and Tommy John knows it.”

Shinesty’s lawsuit demands that Tommy John be barred from any further use of “Hammock” marks. It also requests that the larger brand be required to cough up monetary damages stemming from its unauthorized usage of said marks over the course of the past year.

“We’ve built a strong brand connection with our customers and we intend to protect it,” White added. “As far as we’re concerned we’re the original, and only, Ball Hammock brand of underwear.”

The case, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on May 27, included references to Tommy John’s infringement on the “Hammock” mark, including blog post, product descriptions and social media posts.

Imagery from two Tommy John blogs, posted on the brand's e-commerce site.

Imagery from two Tommy John blogs, posted on the brand’s e-commerce site.

Shinesty called the use of the terms, ranging from “ball hammock” to “hammock pouch” confusingly similar to its own, noting that the marks are also being used to sell related and competing goods to many of the same consumers served by Shinesty. “Unless [Tommy John] is enjoined from using the Accused Hammock  Marks,  such  use  will  cause  consumer  confusion  and  will  cause irreparable harm to Shinesty,” it wrote.

Tommy John is required to respond to the civil action within 21 days, lest “judgement by default” be entered against the company. This would necessitate that it offer Shinesty the full relief demanded in the complaint, which includes yet-to-be-determined damages and halting any Hammock-related sales.

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