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Two new towable lines from Coachmen RV Group, originally designed to launch the Coleman by Coachmen brand, were unveiled under different names at the 42nd National RV Trade Show, Nov. 30-Dec. 2, in Louisville, Ky.
The changeover came in response to a Nov. 17 ruling in Kansas Federal Court granting Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. a permanent injunction against The Coleman Co., barring the Wichita, Kans.-based business from licensing the Coleman name in the RV industry.
In turn, Coachmen RV Group on Monday (Nov. 29) filed suit against Coleman, attempting to “enforce its rights” to license and market the Coleman brand.
Fleetwood had built camping trailers under the Coleman name since 1989, until Coleman severed ties in late 2002, citing breach of contract. Coleman subsequently entered into a licensing agreement with Coachmen RV Group, a division of Elkhart, Ind.-based Coachmen Industries Inc., in January of this year.
Regarding the lawsuit, Coachmen Chairman and CEO, Claire Skinner stated: “We have a signed, exclusive license from the owner of the ‘Coleman’ brands, The Coleman Company, Inc., to use the ‘Coleman’ brand in the recreational vehicle market for the next 15 years, and thereafter. ‘Exclusive’ means only we can use the ‘Coleman’ brands in the recreational vehicle market. We do not intend to relinquish those rights; we will fight for them; and we intend to exercise them.”
During the National RV Trade Show, Coachmen debuted a line of Futura camping trailers, featuring eight floorplans from 8 to 12 feet, and a Velocity travel trailer line, offering six floor plans ranging in size from 22 to 28 feet. Representatives said the lines were “well received” by the dealer body.
According to Fleetwood Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary Forrest Theobald, the original licensing agreement between Coleman and Fleetwood “included a promise they (Coleman) would never use the Coleman name in the RV business.”
Theobald said the presiding judge had signed the final order for the permanent injunction on Monday.
In addition, a trial is under way this week that would decide on damages regarding a suit filed by Fleetwood against Coleman for “improper termination” and a countersuit filed by Coleman.
Theobald said Fleetwood also is suing Coachmen for “interfering with our contractual rights with Coleman.”