Friday, May 16, 2008

Can you own a stripe?

A small Swedish kayak manufacturer is threatening a lawsuit against a small importer of kayaks. The Swedes feel that they own the stripe on their decks and the importer has a kayak in his range with a stripe on it as well. Expensive letters from impressive law firms are flying about.
This is an interesting issue, especially after the Johnsson-Confluence 10 year battle which ended in a +3 million $ compensation package. Well the Swedish case is different if not as both companies are under the 200.000$ bracket and the US guys in the 200 million. Anyway, the kayaks themselves are of totally different designs, both very nice and of high quality. The Swedish producer in the top end of the market, the importer clearly targeted at a very affordable level.
So, can the Swedish brand claim ownership of the stripe? And if so, does the importer have to repaint his boats? And what does North Shore UK have to say, who featured such a stripe 20 years ago, long before any of these two companies existed? And Jaguar, Riva etc who go way back with it on cars and boats?

And is it worth while spending money, focus, time and effort on such a negative issue or is it better to just soldier on? Difficult questions for the struggling kayak entrepreneurs of the world.... At least the lawyers are happy, see you in court:-)

ps. by the way, have you seen the new Current Designs tapered deck shapes. Where did they get that idea?


nigel foster said...

Interesting! My first sea kayak back in 1974 was build by McNulty Strand Glass... and featured along with all the others I saw of that model... a distinctive deck stripe. Should I assume this has been copied by some Swedish companies? The design was by Derek Hutchinson, a man who has won several significant court cases against infringement of his designs.
This seems somewhat ridiculous, but maybe you should bring Derek in the argument!

Richard at Point 65 said...

Acctually, it's only one Swedish kayak company, tho other is from the Baltic region:-) See you tomorrow!