In an apparent retaliatory lawsuit, Chris Ohman has sued the Lance Armstrong Foundation ("LAF") for infringing a design patent to its "BARKSTRONG" dog collar design. In his complaint, filed in the Northern District of Oklahoma last week, Mr. Ohman claims to own patent rights to the use of the LAF's signature LIVESTRONG mark on pet collars , and accuses "LIVESTRONG" pet collars sold by the LAF of infringement. The lawsuit appears extremely questionable in light of the fact that the Patent Office expressly denied Mr. Ohman design patent protection for collars with the word "LIVESTRONG " printed on them because of prior art found on none other than LAF 's own website.
The dispute between Mr. Ohman and the LAF appears to have begun in June, 2005 when Mr. Ohman began selling yellow pet collars with the markings BARKSTRONG and PURRSTRONG. Last September, to prevent dilution of its Trademark, LAF filed suit against Ohman in the Western District of Texas. According to the Texas complaint filed by the LAF, Mr. Ohman approached the LAF in July of 2005, a few weeks after filing a design patent application that, if granted, would give Ohman a patent on the use of LAF's signature LIVESTRONG mark for dog collars. Mr. Ohman's tactic did not work, and no license was granted. Meanwhile, the Patent Office refused to grant Ohman a patent with the LIVESTRONG mark, and, as shown below, Ohman was forced to remove it from his proposed drawings.
(Credit: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)Undeterred, Mr. Ohman filed a lawsuit that, when scrutinized by the Court, may well raise concerns. Stay tuned for the continuing battle to see whose collars are the strongest.