Ater Wynne vindicates trademark owner against prior user of mark

By Dan Larsen
December 6, 2012

A federal judge in Illinois recently ruled that a Chicago company's long-term use of the term "vault" to describe its product did not defeat an Oregon company's use of the term as a registered trademark. 

Edsal Manufactoring Company, Inc., an industrial steel cabinet manufacturer, sued Vault Brands, Inc., an Oregon designer of custom cabinetry and the owner of the registered mark VAULT, for trademark infringement on the grounds that Edsal had been using the word "vault" for its locking metal cabinets more than 10 years before Vault had used its VAULT mark for custom cabinets.  Soon after answering the complaint and denying the allegations, Vault filed a motion for summary judgment on Edsal's claim for trademark infringement.  Vault contended that, although Edsal used the word "vault" to describe its locking metal cabinets, Edsal never used the term as a trademark to identify the source of the goods.  Sitting in the Northern District of Illinois, United States District Judge Dow agreed with Vault and granted summary judgment on Edsal's claim of trademark infringement because Edsal used the word "vault" as merely a desciptor or generic for its locking metal cabinets. 

Ater Wynne litigator Dan Larsen represented Vault Brands.  See the opinion in Edsal Manufacturing Company, Inc. v. Vault Brands, Inc., here.


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