Puma settles artist's trademark claims over alleged 'Roar' logo rip-off

The logo of German sports goods firm Puma is seen at the entrance of one of its stores in Vienna, Austria, March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
  • Christophe Roberts alleged Puma stole "teeth" calling card
  • Puma allegedly used design on clothes including shirts, jackets
  • Judge previously denied Roberts a preliminary injunction

(Reuters) - Brooklyn-based artist Christophe Roberts has settled his claims that German athletic apparel maker Puma stole his "Roar" calling card and used the design – a stylized set of teeth – on its clothing, according to a Tuesday filing in Manhattan federal court.

The joint filing said the parties agreed to dismiss all of Roberts' trademark infringement claims, as well as Puma's counterclaims to invalidate Roberts' federal trademark registration. Details of the settlement weren't immediately available.

Roberts and his attorneys Siddartha Rao and Molly Mauck of Romano Law didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, and neither did Puma North America Inc nor its attorney Johanna Wilbert of Quarles & Brady.

Roberts is an award-winning artist whose works have appeared in several art exhibitions, is well known among "sneakerheads" and has collaborated with brands including Nike, according to his March complaint. He claimed Puma ripped off his signature "Roar" design and used it on clothes including jackets and t-shirts, after a member of the company's basketball division saw his work at an art installation and hired several people who worked with him there.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff rejected Roberts' request for a preliminary injunction to block Puma from using the designs in May.

Rakoff found that Roberts hadn't "established sufficiently serious questions going to the merits to make them a fair ground of litigation, let alone a likelihood of success." He noted that Puma's "teeth" designs come in "many different shapes and sizes" that aren't similar to Roberts' design as a whole, and that there was no evidence of actual confusion or bad faith, among other things.

Puma answered the allegations in June and asked the court to invalidate Roberts' federal trademark based on non-use, abandonment, and fraud. Puma said Roberts lied on his trademark application about the mark's use in commerce, which Roberts denied later that month.

The case is Roberts v. Puma North America Inc, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:21-cv-02559

For Roberts: Siddartha Rao, Nicole Haff, and Molly Mauck of Romano Law

For Puma: Johanna Wilbert, James Aquilina, Lauren Bolcar, and Joseph Kohn of Quarles & Brady

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com