Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN cable-television network must face allegations by Quiksilver Inc. that a logo for its international X Games sports competition violates a clothing trademark, a federal judge ruled.
The emblem for ESPN's extreme-sports franchise is "strikingly similar" to the stylized X used by Quiksilver in the Gen X line of clothing, U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon said in a Friday ruling in New York.
"Quiksilver thoroughly laid out its long history of many types of X usage," McMahon said, rejecting ESPN's bid to dismiss the claims. "Quiksilver has also adequately pled that ESPN's use of the X mark is likely to cause consumer confusion."
Quiksilver, the Huntington Beach maker of its namesake surfing and snowboarding gear, sued in June, arguing it began using the X on clothing labels in 1994 -- two years before the debut of ESPN's sports competition. The company says ESPN was inspired by its logo.
ESPN filed its own trademark allegations against Quiksilver a month earlier, accusing the retailer of copying the X Games logo. The Bristol, Conn.-based network referred to Quiksilver's use of the X in marketing as a "series of disparate designs, not a trademark," court papers show.
ESPN, a unit of Burbank-based Disney, said Quiksilver's logo was particularly confusing because the apparel maker had been a high-profile sponsor of X Games athletes and is currently partnered with a former X Games champion, surfer Kelly Slater, to promote a line of clothing.
The X Games were started by ESPN in 1996 to promote so-called alternative sports such as skateboarding, freestyle biking, surfing and rally-car racing.