Pillsbury Helps Clearwire Defeat Injunction in Sony Ericsson

Helping their client Clearwire Corp. win an early battle in ongoing litigation over corporate logos, a team of Pillsbury’s Intellectual Property (IP) and Litigation attorneys defeated a preliminary injunction sought by plaintiff Sony Ericsson in a trademark infringement lawsuit. If granted, the injunction would have prevented Clearwire from using its current logo while the case prepared for trial, costing the company at least $8 million.

Sony Ericsson, a maker of mobile communication devices, sued Clearwire, a wireless broadband service provider, last month in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, claiming Clearwire’s green swirl logo for its CLEAR brand too closely resembled Sony Ericsson’s logo, causing “confusion” in the marketplace, and allegedly leading customers to mistake offerings bearing the CLEAR mark for Sony Ericsson’s. Sony Ericsson sought the preliminary injunction, in addition to a portion of Clearwire profits and damages. However, the court denied the logo injunction request on February 11, finding insufficient evidence regarding Sony Ericsson’s allegations, and freeing Clearwire to use its logo in the interim.

“Clearwire is pleased with the federal court’s decision to deny Sony Ericsson’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the use of the CLEAR marks at issue in the case,” the company said in a statement. “The judge’s findings of insufficient evidence of likelihood of confusion and no irreparable harm further support our contention that the suit is without merit. We expect that the final disposition of the case will be in our favor and that it will demonstrate that the CLEAR branding is clearly differentiated from the Sony Ericsson brand.”

The existence of any confusion in the market between the companies’ different industries and offerings is a crucial issue in the case, according to IP litigation partner Mark D. Litvack, representing Clearwire together with IP senior associate Mariah Brandt and Litigation associate Daron T. Carreiro.

“The facts of this case show there is no evidence that would establish Clearwire’s CLEAR C trademark indicates any association or relationship with Sony Ericsson. Without real evidence of association or sponsorship, Sony Ericsson’s case for trademark infringement cannot succeed,” Litvack said. “We thank the court for denying the injunction on grounds that are integral to our defense and are pleased that Clearwire can continue to use its logo through trial.”

Pillsbury’s Intellectual Property practice advises clients on developing successful and comprehensive IP strategies by protecting, managing, asserting, defending, and leveraging their IP assets. Pillsbury’s IP practice includes more than 80 attorneys, technical consultants and patent agents, in Northern Virginia, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, New York, San Diego, Sacramento, Tokyo, London, and other offices around the country and abroad. Pillsbury’s IP team has a wide range of advanced scientific and technical degrees in areas including electrical and mechanical engineering, chemistry, biology, physics, and a number of other technical disciplines.