In a pretty plain vanilla decision, the First Circuit recently affirmed a jury verdict of infringement in a reverse confusion case. In Attrezzi, LLC v. Maytag Corp., No. 05-2098, -2181 (Jan. 27, 2006), the court affirmed the jury's determination that Maytag's use of ATTREZZI (which is Italian for "tools") on its Jenn-Air line of small kitchen appliances infringed the plaintiff's prior use of ATTREZZI for a single location store for upscale kitchen products and services, including small kitchen appliances. The pivotal facts, based on the court's discussion, seemed to be: (1) that there were several instances of actual confusion (although the court characterized them as "limited"); and (2) Maytag's in-house counsel initially opined that the plaintiff's mark, which showed up in a pre-adoption search, was "a problem," but later changed his mind when company execs told him to "take another look" at the issue (nudge nudge, wink wink).
There was nothing earth-shattering in the decision, although other noteworthy aspects of the court's opinion include:
- noting that a defendant's use of its well-known house mark in conjunction with the accused mark in a reverse confusion case actually exacerbates, not diminishes, the likelihood of confusion; and
- holding that attorney's fees expended by the plaintiff in initially fighting the defendant's ITU before the plaintiff sued was a compensable item of actual damage.
Because of the way the First Circuit's website is set up, I can't link directly to the opinion, but here's the link to the home page of the First Circuit website. Use the docket number to search for the opinion.
UPDATE: A nice anonymous comment provided me the static link to the opinion: It's this.