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California company sued by Harley-Davidson over trademark

A California-based clothing company is being sued by Harley-Davidson over an alleged trademark infringement. Reports published on Dec. 28 indicate that the motorcycle manufacturer filed a lawsuit in its home state of Wisconsin seeking millions in punitive and compensatory damages and demanding that Affliction Clothing cease any further infringements of trademarks protected under U.S. intellectual property laws.

According to reports, the intellectual property dispute began when a shipment of clothing manufactured by Afflicted was sent to a Harley-Davidson dealer. When the clothing was examined, the dealer noticed strong similarities between the branding used on several items of Afflicted apparel and Harley-Davidson's trademarked Bar and Shield logo. Afflicted is said to have responded to a cease-and-desist letter sent by Harley-Davidson attorneys on Oct. 18 by offering to halt the sale of six items. However, this did not go far enough to satisfy Harley-Davidson and prevent the dispute from escalating.

The lawsuit is not the first time that Harley-Davidson has sought redress in the courts against apparel companies over intellectual property. The company has previously initiated trademark infringement litigation against Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, GearLaunch and SunFrog. In its latest legal foray, Harley-Davidson makes claims against Afflicted and demands that the company cease any further trademark infringement.

Disputes of this nature can be complex and costly to litigate, but companies that allow their valuable intellectual property to be infringed upon without complaint may pay an even higher price. Attorneys with experience in this area may be able to help business owners ensure that their logos and brands are properly protected by trademarks, and legal professionals could suggest a vigorous response when these trademarks are infringed. The damages awarded in intellectual property disputes can be ruinous for the defendants involved, so attorneys might suggest a more flexible approach when the parties concerned accept their culpability and are willing to settle matters quickly.

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