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KÜHL filed a lawsuit against L.L.Bean this week, claiming that Bean’s new campaign which features the phrase “Be an Outsider” infringes on KÜHL’s June 2015 trademark of the term “The Outsider” which they they currently use on two SKUs: the mens’ Outsider pants and Outsider Cargo Shorts. KÜHL, known particularly for its pants, sells about a million total pairs per year. L.L.Bean does not carry KÜHL pants online or in any of its retail locations.
“We think L.L.Bean’s rebranding as ‘Be an Outsider’ is clever. Their advertising campaign clearly plays off of both our branding on our hang tags, catalog and website,” Kevin Boyle, founder and president at KÜHL said in a press release. “In my opinion L.L.Bean’s legal team knew – or should have known – that KÜHL owned the trademark ‘The Outsider.’ KÜHL now has an obligation to enforce our trademark and protect our customers from confusion.”
The soon to be released hangtags for the two KÜHL Outsider pants uses the following language: ‘THE OUTSIDER : < 1.) One that does not belong to any particular group or organization < 2.) One who makes his own rules and spends his time in the wild.’
Kevin Boyle continues: “There is more to being an ‘outsider’ than just getting outdoors. KÜHL is known as an outsider for being disruptive and creating innovative and ground breaking designs. This is our DNA. L.L.Bean, on the other hand, is known as ‘the establishment.’”
Watch L.L.Bean’s new commercial below. What do you think?
Essentially, KÜHL contends that L.L.Bean knew that there was a possible infringement, but intentionally filed the paperwork in such a way as to create a workaround, Melanie Webb, a spokesperson for KÜHL told SNEWS. “Our lawyers believe it does qualify,” she says. “We’ll let them work it out.”
L.L.Bean spokesman, Mac McKeever says “We firmly believe we are well within our legal rights to use the call to action Be An Outsider, and look forward to resolving this issue.” di
KÜHL owns and operates its flagship store in Park City, Utah. L.L. Bean plans to open its first Utah store right down the street in early 2018.
In August, KÜHL filed suit against German booze company, Jägermeister, when it launched an ad campaign featuring the German spelling for “cool,” which is, of course, KÜHL. As of this writing, the term still appears all over the Jägermeister website, and Webb says that lawsuit is still in the works.