Brooks Brothers Group, Inc. has filed a response and counterclaim against Brooks Sports, Inc. for breach of contract, trademark infringement, dilution and unfair competition. The lawsuit seeks to eliminate potential consumer deception or confusion caused by Brooks Sports by intentionally dropping its logo in association with its brand name – which is in direct violation of a long-standing co-existence agreement between the two companies.
Brooks Brothers was founded by Henry Sands Brooks in New York City in 1818 and is America’s oldest apparel company. The Brooks Brothers trademark was established in 1854. For over two centuries the company has been recognized as a global lifestyle brand offering a wide range of clothing, sportswear and accessories that have defined American style. As a result of its long history and widespread fame, the name Brooks has become synonymous with Brooks Brothers not only within the apparel industry but also in the media, popular culture, literature and to consumers alike.
In the 1970’s, Brooks Sports, Inc. began selling running shoes under the mark Brooks, prompting an objection by Brooks Brothers and eventually, in 1980, a coexistence agreement providing that Brooks Sports could use Brooks alone for athletic shoes, but could only use Brooks on athletic clothing if combined with a logo or other word.
After nearly 40 years of co-existence based on these terms, Brooks Sports has breached the agreement by dropping its logo and filing for the word Brooks alone for a variety of apparel items, selling t-shirts and hats displaying Brooks without its logo, and filing a lawsuit against Brooks Brothers.
In order to protect its internationally renowned trademark and prevent consumer confusion between the companies’ respective brands, Brooks Brothers has opposed Brooks Sports’ newly filed applications around the world and filed a counterclaim in federal court to enforce the terms of the contract.
photo: courtesy of Purple PR