Car Sale Promoter Can Sue Over ‘Slasher’ Marks

     ATLANTA (CN) – The 11th Circuit has resurrected a trademark battle over the term “Slasher” in infomercials for car dealerships.

     A three-judge panel revived Caliber Automotive Liquidators’ claim that a competitor’s “Slasher Show” infomercials infringed on its “Slash-It! Sales Event” and “Slasher Sale” service marks.
     Caliber travels the country helping car dealerships shrink their inventory with blowout sales. It floods local market with multimedia ads, prepares the dealership for the big sale and energizes the sales staff.
     The company also makes money by licensing its Slasher service marks to dealerships nationwide and by filing infringement lawsuits that often settle out of court.
     When Caliber’s owner, Daniel Ryan, heard that rival Premier Automotive Group was running “Slasher Show” infomercials for its dealerships in greater Atlanta, he called Premier to work out a licensing agreement.
     He said the ads confused customers, including one dealer canceled a Caliber-run Slash-It! Sales Event and ordered his workforce not to pay Caliber’s invoices because he thought Caliber an exclusivity agreement in Georgia.
     When Premier’s owner refused to negotiate — ending the conversation with “rude comments,” according to the ruling — Caliber sued Premier for infringement under state and federal law.
     The district court dismissed the case, finding only a “slight” amount of confusion, but the Atlanta-based appeals court reversed and remanded for a possible trial.
     “Caliber has presented sufficient evidence of the strength of its marks and of actual confusion amongst the relevant consumer class to avoid summary judgment,” Judge Patrick Higginbotham wrote for the three-judge panel.
     “Caliber has proffered … evidence of actual confusion of the car dealerships, the relevant purchasing population,” he added.

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