Law School Case Brief
E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. v. Yoshida Int'l, Inc. - 393 F. Supp. 502 (E.D.N.Y. 1975)
Strength or weakness is primarily a question of assessment of a mark's distinctiveness or popularity. Where the public has been educated to recognize and accept a particular mark as the hallmark for a particular source of that product, or the mark itself is inherently unique or has been the subject of wide advertisement, it is a strong trademark. Similarly, coined or fanciful marks are generally thought to have a much more unique or distinctive appeal than words in common use, and are frequently found to be strong marks deserving a correspondingly broader degree of protection.
Plaintiff filed suit for trademark infringement against a Japanese corporation and its subsidiary for alleged infringement of its trademark "TEFLON." The defendants made and sold zippers under the name EFLON. Plaintiff contended that it made a strong showing of a likelihood of confusion among ordinary purchasers as to the source of origin of defendants' zipper. It emphasized the virtual identity in sound and appearance of TEFLON and EFLON, the peculiar circumstances of defendants' adoption of EFLON and the tenor of their advertising, the functional interrelatedness of the non-stick quality of the respective products, and the substantial possibility that plaintiff's chemical substance would be used as lubricants or coatings in the construction of zippers or their components. Defendants denied infringement or bad faith in their adoption and use of EFLON, stressed the dissimilarity of the products and the customers, and the absence of evidence of either actual confusion or the likelihood thereof. They also argued that TEFLON was at best a weak mark that had become generic and not entitled to trademark protection.
Did the plaintiff sustain its infringement claim?
The court concluded that plaintiff sustained its infringement claim and that the defense of genericness had not been sustained. A further hearing was required to determine the appropriate scope and form of the judgment before granting injunctive relief.
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