Court Dismisses Strip Club Chain’s Lawsuit Against Chiappa Firearms

To anyone who was following the case, it was inevitable.  Spearmint Rhino’s trademark infringement case against Chiappa Firearms simply did not hold water.  That is, despite the fact that their respective rhino outline trademarks are similar, it’s highly unlikely that one would confuse a gentlemen’s club with a firearms manufacturer. 

Last week, the court presiding over the case dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that the “Plaintiff has not been able to demonstrate a single instance of actual consumer confusion, and indeed cannot show that any reasonable consumer is likely to be confused as to the relationship between these two companies.”

Moreover, the court added that the “Plaintiff mainly provides services in the form of adult entertainment, while Defendants mainly provide goods in the form of handguns. It is highly unlikely that a consumer would accidentally purchase one when he intended to purchase the other.”

Perhaps, for good measure, we should pose the question, have you ever purchased a Chiappa Rhino Revolver when you really meant to buy a Spearmint Rhino g-string?  If you answer in the affirmative, we’d love to hear about your story below, in the comment section. 

The international strip club conglomerate filed the lawsuit against Chiappa this past summer, arguing that by using the rhino outline Chiappa was “likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive because, among other reasons, consumers are likely to believe that there is an affiliation, connection, or association between” Spearmint and Chiappa.

To win the lawsuit, Spearmint certainly had its work cut out for it.  According to Milord & Associates, a law firm specializing in patent, copyright and trademark law, “Spearmint had to show that it had a protectable trademark and that a ‘reasonably prudent consumer’ is likely to be confused as to the origin of a good or service.”

To determine the likelihood of confusion, Courts analyze the following non-exhaustive factors including: (1) strength of the mark; (2) relatedness to the goods; (3) similarity of sight, sound, and meaning; (4) evidence of actual confusion; (5) marketing channels; (6) type of goods and purchaser care; (7) intent; and (8) likelihood of expansion.

Unfortunately for the Spearmint Rhino executives, there was clearly a dearth of evidence to suggest that consumers were in danger of mixing up the two brands or respective products.  

Given the fact that Spearmint Rhino had, in reality, a snow snowball’s chance in hell of winning this lawsuit, many have argued that this was either (1) a publicity stunt to get Spearmint Rhino’s name in the headlines or (2) a desperate money grab.  Whatever the reason, it’s good to know that at the end of the day the court did the right thing and dismissed the case.