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Court Throws Its Weight With Lardashe

September 16, 1987|United Press International

DENVER — Hogg Wyld Ltd., which markets Lardashe designer jeans for larger women, was not guilty of trademark infringement against Jordache Enterprises Inc., a federal appeals court has affirmed.

In a witty and erudite opinion, which quoted heavily from satirists Jonathan Swift and Lewis Carroll in addition to large legal citations, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday weighed the right of Hogg Wyld, now Oink Inc., a small New Mexico jean manufacturer, to parody industry giant Jordache.

The court observed that Jordache, a New York corporation formed by three immigrant brothers in 1978, generated a big advertising campaign to create a large consumer awareness of its product.

In 1984, the same year Jordache spent $30 million on television, radio, newspaper and magazine advertisements and other promotional efforts, two women from New Mexico started a home-based jean company targeting heavier women.

After considering such names as "Vidal Sowsoon," "Calvin Swine," "Thunder Thighs," "Buffalo Buns," and "Seambusters," Marsha Stafford and Susan Duran settled on "Lardashe."

"This case," the court said in its ruling, "reminds us (of the Swift quotation) that 'you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.' " The opinion concluded with the line from Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland": " 'If it had grown up,' she said to herself, 'it would have been a dreadfully ugly child; but it makes rather a handsome pig, I think.' "

In 1985, Jordache expanded by licensing Shaker Sport to manufacture and market Jordache jeans for larger women. That year, Shaker Sport sold 60,000 pairs of blue jeans, while Lardashe sold 1,000.

After learning of Stafford and Duran's cottage industry in New Mexico from an NBC television broadcast, Jordache filed suit in 1985 against the pair, alleging trademark infringement.

The district court in New Mexico held that no trademark infringement had occurred.

The appeals court affirmed.

"It is unlikely that the public would assume that the same manufacturer would use quite different marks on substantially the same products," the judges affirmed.

"Our review of the record convinces us that the public will not associate Lardashe jeans with the appellant or, if they do, they will only make the association because of the parody and not because they believe Jordache Enterprises manufactures Lardashe jeans."

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