Under Armour has accused fellow sportswear company, Hotsuit, of trademark infringement. According to Under Armour, weight-loss and sauna suit brand Hotsuit is selling too-similar clothing stamped with a logo that's a copycat of the trademark UA design.
The lawsuit claims that the design "has already caused confusion and gives Defendant an unfair boost in the marketplace at the expense of both Under Armour and consumers". Under Armour is seeking a jury trial and an injunction that will order Hotsuit to stop using the logo.
But is this case justified? Is the logo design (opens in new tab) really similar enough to cause confusion? Let's have a look.
There's no doubt that the basic shape very similar, but the flowing lines and loop of the UA logo sets a very different tone to the blocky pointed corners of the H. The use of negative space in the H does feel reminiscent of the UA, but inverted – with UA's central block cut out and the middle join of the H filled in. The middle part being such a feature on both is part of what gives such a similar impression. But, it kinda just looks like an H. As you would expect from a brand called Hotsuit.
Opinions are mixed on the subject, with some pointing out that the context matters:
I dunno. Out of context, a stretch, but as used on this shirt, i think it’s confusingly similar. If I saw it at a store I might think it was UA. pic.twitter.com/VRaijEu0TVNovember 11, 2019
We do see what he means. The fact that the brands share a space in the apparel arena makes for more confusion than if they were in different sectors, as the picture below demonstrates.
But others still think think it's a real stretch, commenting that you need to squint from a distance to confuse the two. Others have, amusingly, suggested other brands that Under Armour might want to take on:
Under Armour: Honda you must hereby cease and desist from using this logo you designed decades before we existed pic.twitter.com/nj6JawEVb2November 11, 2019
And logos that are even more similar to Hotsuit have also been shared.
Erm… pic.twitter.com/iHEwmi7ZRWNovember 11, 2019
The diverse reaction shows just how much grey area there is when dealing with infringement cases. Under Armour, though, is convinced that the design is a real threat to the brand.
“Since 1996, we have worked hard to deliver great product and build Under Armour into the strong, global brand that we are today,” the company asserted in a statement to WJZ (opens in new tab). “We have an obligation to enforce our rights against similar marks and prevent any confusion in the marketplace.”
We guess we'll wait and see what happens with Under Armour and Hotsuit, but we don't envy the folk having to make the decision. Will it go down in history as one of the many high-profile cases of plagiarism (opens in new tab) or is it too much of a stretch?
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