L.L.Bean Sued Over ‘Outsider’ Ad Campaign
A Utah-based retailer of outdoor and mountaineering gear has filed a federal lawsuit against L.L.Bean, alleging that its recent marketing campaign slogan, “Be an Outsider,” infringes on a trademark registered in August. Alfwear, which sells outdoor clothing under the name KÜHL, claimed in its Oct. 2 lawsuit that it has been using the phrase “the outsider” in its sales of outdoor clothing since 2015, and that L.L.Bean’s recent marketing campaign infringes on its trademark. Alfwear has demanded L.L.Bean cease and desist its use of the phrase in sales of outdoor clothing, claiming loss of sales and profits, and asked for L.L.Bean to pay damages and attorneys’ fees.
Total Retail's Take: L.L.Bean's brand is synonymous with the outdoors, and it did file for the trademark "Be An Outsider" in June 2017, but does an existing registered trademark for the brand name "The Outsider" preclude Bean from using the term "Outsider?" The courts will ultimately decide the matter, but I believe L.L.Bean has a right to feel confident in its chances that the lawsuit will be dismissed. In fact, REI would seem to have more of a case against L.L.Bean for trademark infringement based on its two-year old #OptOutside campaign, which encourages consumers to spend Black Friday outdoors rather than shopping.