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This update is meant to give an overview of the facts and law in Hamilton International Ltd. v. Vortic LLC such that readers can form their own opinions as the case heads to trial.
It’s been a long two-plus years for Vortic Watches since Hamilton filed a trademark infringement and counterfeiting lawsuit against it back in July of 2017 (see the original complaint here). But, the suit finally comes to a head this week as a bench (i.e. non-jury trial) is set to begin in the Southern District of New York on February 19 (Hamilton International Ltd. v. Vortic LLC, 17-CV-5575).
Case background and complaint
In 2017, Hamilton, an historically American watch brand now owned by Swiss conglomerate Swatch Group, filed suit against Vortic and founder RT Custer alleging trademark infringement and counterfeiting, as well as levying claims of false designation and unfair competition under the Lanham Act, the federal statute governing trademarks and unfair competition.
Vortic Watches is an engineering and manufacturing company based in Fort Collins, Colo. The company uses 3D printing to create new, custom-built wristwatch cases, then drops mechanical movements and dials it sources from old American-made pocket watches to create bespoke wristwatches. In addition to manufacturing the case, Vortic also gets the original mechanical movement in working order, which at least sometimes means using movement parts from multiple antique watches.
In building these watches, Vortic maintains and restores the original dials and movements, meaning the branding of the original timepieces is kept. Visiting Vortic’s website, you’ll see watches with dials from historic American watch brands like Illinois, Waltham, and others. Before Hamilton filed its complaint, Vortic’s offerings also included Vortic wristwatches with dials and movements bearing the Hamilton name.
In addition to bringing claims regarding Vortic’s watches, Hamilton also asserts that Vortic’s advertising materials — including its website — improperly infringe and suggest an affiliation with Hamilton. Hamilton alleges that the advertisements and watches are “likely to cause confusion”, in the market, thus infringing on Hamilton’s trademarks, and additionally that the use of the Hamilton name will wrongly cause consumers to believe Vortic’s watches are endorsed by or associated with Hamilton.
https://rescapement.substack.com/p/hami ... IcoJJek-m4
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