Legal Dispute Arise Over Christmas Tree Design Between Wreath Companies in Maine

Legal Dispute Arise Over Christmas Tree Design Between Wreath Companies in Maine

12/2/2010

A design of a miniature Christmas tree caused a wreath-making company in Maine to file a lawsuit against its competitor.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Bangor, Maine, by Worcester Wreath Co. owner, Morrill Worcester, against its competitor, Machias-based Whitney Originals Inc.

The dispute arose from the alleged ripping off by Whitney the patented design of Worcester’s miniature tree. The Christmas tree in question is constructed of solid foam at its core and sits in a stand. It is decorated with pine cones and balsam branches.

In 2002, the two companies entered into an agreement that allowed Whitney to make the tree as long as it does not copy the distinctive look of any tree products made by Worcester. The agreement states that this is to avoid causing confusion in the marketplace.

However, as the suit alleges, the miniature tree produced by Whitney that is on display in the 2010 holiday catalog of L.L. Bean “substantially copies” the patented tree of Worcester.

When Morrill Worcester saw the tree in the 2010 holiday catalog of L.L. Bean, he was surprised because he said that at first glance, it really looked just like his patented tree.

Worcester even invited interested parties to take a look at his tree, saying, “Look at our tree at worcesterwreath.com and look at theirs, and you shall be the judge.”

The lawsuit that Worcester filed is seeking for damages, as well as permanent injunction that would bar Whitney from producing Christmas trees that would infringe upon the patented design of the Worcester Christmas tree.

Speaking on behalf of his client, the attorney of Whitney, James Haddow, said his client has been careful in ensuring that its tree is not identical to the line of miniature trees made by Worcester.

WRITTEN BY:

blakeh@wellsdrew.com