DETROIT—A slogan fight is on in Detroit after Chrysler Group LLC filed suit late Tuesday to stop a local business from selling clothing branded with the words: “Imported From Detroit.”
The auto maker, which unveiled the “Imported From Detroit” slogan at the end of its successful Super Bowl XLV ad, wants a federal court judge to bar Moda Group LLC from selling T-shirts and other clothing featuring the slogan “Imported From Detroit” at its Pure Detroit store chain.
According to a copy of the lawsuit, Chrysler contends Pure Detroit began selling the “Imported From Detroit” attire shortly after the airing of the Super Bowl commercial and falsely advertised that it had “exclusive rights” to market the merchandise.
Chrysler’s two-minute spot, which features Detroit rapper Eminem, touts the auto maker’s new Chrysler 200 vehicle as it rolls through a variety of Detroit street scenes. The commercial ends by flashing the tagline– Chrysler: “Imported From Detroit.”
The auto maker claims it had already registered the “Imported From Detroit” trademark for clothing in January, more than a month before Pure Detroit began selling the shirts. Chrysler is selling clothing with the logo through it own Web site. A portion of the sales goes to charity.
“Chrysler has attempted in good faith to encourage Pure Detroit to stop infringing Chrysler’s rights and to contribute a portion of its gains to charity, but it has refused to do so,” the auto maker said in a statement Wednesday. “This action seeks to stop Pure Detroit from exploiting the ‘Imported From Detroit’ tagline and account for the profits it has made.”
A call to Pure Detroit’s main store in downtown Detroit yielded no response to the allegations. Pure Detroit is operated by owners Kevin Borsay and Shawn Santo, who are also named in the suit.
Last month, Ford Motor Co. sued Ferrari SpA for alleged trademark infringement after the Italian auto maker named its new Formula 1 racing car the F150. Ford claimed the name was too close to the name of its F-150 pickup truck. Ferrari agreed to stop using the name.
By Jeff Bennett