This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Skullcandy, the Park City company that makes headphones and accessories for the extreme sports crowd, believes its skull-bearing logo is unique.
So the company has filed a federal lawsuit against Skelanimals, claiming the line of licensed toys, music accessories and apparel based on cute creature skeletons infringes on Skullcandy's trademarked logo.
"The skull logos used by defendants … is likely to cause confusion ... or to deceive the consuming public," according to the trademark-infringement suit filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.
Skelanimals is jointly licensed by Art Impressions of Calabasas, Calif., and toy manufacturer Jazwares Inc. of Sunrise, Fla. It is a line of products based on "adorable little animals who have met an untimely end, mostly due to their own reckless and ill-advised behavior," according to the company's website. The design style is based on the skeletons of creatures ranging from a bear to a butterfly.
The images appear on clothing, headphones, backpacks, alarm clocks, digital cameras and plush toys and even have a series of short films based on them. The company website claims the content, including the designs, was copyrighted in 2008.
Skullcandy, which says it has used its own skull-shaped logo since 2003, produces headphones, clothing, portable music player accessories and jewelry that bears the design.
"We have registered trademarks on that skull across the world, particularly in the headphone category. We are recognized globally for that skull," said Tom Burton, associate general counsel for Skullcandy. "We try to resolve these issues through friendly negotiations but not everyone respects our intellectual property, and we have to protect it."
Cindy Bailey, CEO for Art Impressions, declined to discuss the suit Wednesday, saying "we don't know anything about it." Messages left with Jazwares were not returned.
Skullcandy alleges that the use of the Skelanimals designs by the defendants is for "the purpose of exploiting and trading on the substantial goodwill and reputation of Skullcandy." It claims the line's creators, by violating state trade practices and committing trademark infringement, are damaging the value of the Skullcandy logo.
Last May, Skullcandy filed a lawsuit against an Orem man, claiming he maliciously posted negative reviews of the company's products on the Internet after he was told by Skullcandy he could not be an official reseller on eBay. That case is still pending in U.S. District Court.
In July, Skullcandy became a publicly-held company and raised more than $188 million in its initial public offering. Its shares closed Wednesday at $16.76, down 42 cents.
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