Jackson Center, Ohio-based Airstream Inc. has initiated legal action against Seirus Innovation Accessories Inc. to protect its trademark and brand.
The Dayton Business Journal reported that the California company is marketing a line of Airstream ski gloves. A subsidiary of parent company Thor Industries Inc., which holds the trademarks of Thor and Airstream, filed a lawsuit in the in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio last month.
The journal reported that talks with Seirus are continuing, but the case marks the first time in 18 years that Airstream actually has filed a lawsuit to protect its brand.
The last time was in 1988 when L.A. Gear was marketing a shoe called Airstream. The case eventually was settled with L.A. Gear no longer selling the shoe.
For Airstream, a subsidiary of the $2.6 billion RV manufacturer Thor, it’s really about maintaining the integrity of its brand and name rather than making a profit, said Tim Champ, director of marketing and brand development for Airstream. In all, the retail value of the licensing program is probably about $250,000, making up less than 1% of the company’s total revenue he said.
But it’s a daily battle even if it doesn’t always result in a lawsuit, Champ said. He added that every couple of years a company will dig its heels in, but most issues are resolved without lawsuits by requiring that the other company sign a licensing agreement or simply stop producing the product.
“Part of what I do every day as the brand manager is safeguard the company,” Champ said, adding that Internet searches and a variety of “spies” – including Airstream aficionados who draw attention to questionable situations – help him monitor the brand.
“If we don’t protect it, people can say that others are making use of it and that Airstream has given up their right to protect it,” he said. “We don’t want to set a bad precedent.”
Seirus executives and lawyers did not return calls by the Dayton Business Journal seeking comment.