Sterilite accuses Olivet of infringing the trade dress in Sterilite’s garage storage cabinets and drawers and a swing top wastebasket. Sterilite introduced the cabinets in 1998, and points to an issued design patent covering one of the cabinet designs as proof that the designs are non-functional (although the standards for determining functionality differ between the trade dress and design patent realms). As the asserted trade dress is in the product designs themselves, Sterilite must show that the marks have acquired secondary meaning – that the design is associated with the source of the product). Sterilite suggests acquired distinctiveness has arisen through advertisements placed by retailers like Walmart, Target, Amazon and Home Depot. Sterilite further points to their seventeen years of sales of these products, exceeding $100 million.
Sterilite says that Olivet makes virtual knock-offs of the Sterilite trade dress, and has supplanted Sterilite at Walmart. Sterilite says that the Olivet products are far less durable, and that customer confusion will therefore harm Sterilite’s reputation for quality. Sterilite points to several other suits filed against Olivet, accusing them of selling knock-offs of other companies’ products. Sterilite claims trade dress infringement under the Lanham Act, unfair competition under 93A, state law dilution, and tortious interference with business relations.
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