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A November trial date has been set for the lawsuit filed by Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. against The Coleman Co. Inc., which challenges Coleman’s decision to allow Coachmen to build RVs under the Coleman brand name, Coachmen Chairman and CEO Claire Skinner revealed during a conference call with investment analysts on Tuesday (July 27).
Fleetwood, which built folding trailers under the Coleman brand name from 1989 until last year, has named Coachmen “a cross-claimant” in its suit against Coleman, said Skinner, a former trial lawyer.
“There’s a trial setting in November for Fleetwood and Coleman,” she said during the conference call. “This is not the Fleetwood vs. Coachmen case. In that case, the judge heard our motion for a summary judgment just recently and has taken the matter under advisement and has not yet ruled.”
A summary judgment in favor of Coachmen basically would mean that the judge throws out the Fleetwood vs. Coachmen portion of the case.
“Although we do not believe Fleetwood will prevail in its case against Coleman – even if they do – that does not mean that they will prevail against Coachmen or that they will have any rights to the Coleman name or to prevent Coachmen from using the Coleman name,” Skinner said.
Coachmen is being “indemnified” for its legal costs by Coleman, Skinner added.
Separately, Coachmen President and COO Matthew Schafer said on Tuesday that Coachmen will begin shipping to its dealers next fall folding campers carrying the Coleman brand name.
Skinner added that Coachmen will begin shipping Coleman brand hybrid travel trailers, also called expandables, and Coleman brand sport utility trailers (SUTs), also called “toy haulers,” in mid-2005.
The fact that Coachmen currently does not build SUTs or hybrids, which combine features of folding campers and traditional hard-sided conventional travel trailers, helps explain why Coachmen’s travel trailer shipments, in terms of units, declined 9% during the April-through-June period, said Skinner.
Coachmen shipments of all other RV product types increased by at least 9% during the second quarter, the company reported Tuesday.
“Part of our excitement about the Coleman venture is that we will be coming to market by the middle of next year with both of those two types of product (hybrids and SUTs) within the travel trailer category,” Skinner said.
She added that until Coachmen formed a towable RV design team earlier this year, the company had focused only on the portions of the travel trailer segment that accounted for “bigger chunks of the market.” But Skinner said the hybrid and SUT portions “have grown to a meaningful size” in recent years and they aren’t minor niches any more.”