Berkshire's Brooks running unit settles trademark case against Brooks Brothers

Oct 26 (Reuters) - Brooks, the running shoe unit of billionaire Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N), has settled a lawsuit accusing the retailer Brooks Brothers of diluting its reputation and confusing customers by marketing athletic wear with the "Brooks" name, but without "Brothers."

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez in Seattle, where Brooks is based, ordered the dismissal of the lawsuit on Tuesday after the companies, whose roots date back more than a century, said the settlement resolved all claims and counterclaims.

Brooks originally sued Brooks Brothers in February 2020, accusing it of undermining the companies' 1980 "coexistence" trademark agreement by seeking federal approval to use "Brooks" on clothing and sporting goods, as well as on retail stores.

It objected last year to Brooks Brothers' launch of "faux" athletic wear, saying it threatened to "demoralize" consumers who associate the Brooks name with high-quality athletic wear, and to Brooks Brothers' "Back to Brooks" marketing campaign.

Brooks Brothers countered that the lawsuit was an "ill-conceived ploy" to evade the coexistence agreement, and demanded Brooks' compliance.

Lawyers for both companies did not immediately respond on Wednesday to requests for comment.

Founded in 1818, Brooks Brothers is the oldest continually-operating U.S. clothing retailer.

It filed for bankruptcy in July 2020 and is now owned by SPARC Group, a joint venture between mall operator Simon Property Group Inc (SPG.N) and licensing company Authentic Brands Group Inc (AUTH.N). Both were defendants in the lawsuit.

Brooks was founded in 1914, and bought by Berkshire in 2006. It generated $1.11 billion of revenue in 2021. Brooks' main rivals include Adidas, Asics and Nike.

The case is Brooks Sports Inc v SPARC Group LLC, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington, No. 20-01491.

(This story has been refiled to make clear that the judge ordered the lawsuit's dismissal, in second paragraph)

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York Editing by Nick Zieminski

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