Austin’s own Yeti Coolers is continuing its crusade against what it contends are “confusingly similar” products, targeting Walmart for the second time in less than two years.
Yeti filed a lawsuit last month in U.S. District Court in Austin, claiming that the mega-retailer is selling counterfeit Yeti drinkware, as well as off-brand drinkware that too closely resembles Yeti’s trademarked line of tumblers.
It’s the latest in a string of legal maneuvers by Yeti in recent years. In previous cases, most of the competitors have backed down, either agreeing to alter product designs going forward or ceasing to sell drinkware altogether.
In its 16-count lawsuit, Yeti says Walmart – the nation’s largest brick-and-mortar merchant – has “purposefully advertised, promoted, offered for sale, sold, distributed, manufactured and/or imported, and continues to advertise, market, promote, offer for sale, sell, distribute, manufacture and/or import drinkware products that violate Yeti’s rights.”
Yeti, in court documents, specifically takes issue with three stainless steel tumblers being sold by Walmart – a small “Koozie” model and larger 20- and 30-ounce versions.
“Walmart’s infringing products are confusingly similar imitations of Yeti’s products and are in the same size as Yeti’s products,” the suit alleges. “Walmart’s actions have all been without the authorization of Yeti.”
Walmart provided the American-Statesman with the following written statement: “We’ve worked hard to comply with the settlement agreement. We’ve confirmed that a sales block is in place. Any Yeti-branded products on walmart.com are sold and fulfilled by third parties, not Walmart. We intend to vigorously defend ourselves.”
“As a result of Walmart’s activities related to the infringing products, there is a strong likelihood of confusion between Walmart and its products on the one hand, and Yeti and its products on the other hand,” the suit states.
Yeti claims this isn’t the first time Walmart has sold knockoffs of its products. Last year, the two sides reached an out-of-court settlement when similar concerns were raised.
“Despite Walmart’s clear and express obligations under the settlement agreement with regard to the ‘accused products’ identified in the settlement agreement, Walmart continues to unlawfully advertise, market, promote, sell, offer to sell, and/or distribute ‘accused products,’ and take other actions, in breach of the settlement agreement and in violation of Yeti’s rights,” the suit states, calling the chain’s actions “intentional, willful and malicious” and “unfair and unlawful.”
Yeti says it “has been injured and has lost one or more sales as a direct result of Walmart’s breach of the settlement agreement,” and accuses the retailer of breach of contract, trademark dilution, trademark infringement, unfair competition, copyright infringement, patent infringement, common law misappropriation and unjust enrichment, among other claims.
Yeti is seeking a jury trial. A court date has not been set.
Yeti is asking for a ruling that Walmart has breached the previous settlement agreement, as well as a court order barring Walmart from future violations of the agreement. It also wants all profits from Walmart’s “infringing activities” and attorneys’ fees.