Lawsuit continues over Ashley's use of ‘Bogart' name
Furniture Today Staff -- Furniture Today, August 30, 2012
LOS ANGELES — A federal court judge in Georgia declined to dismiss a lawsuit against Ashley Furniture for using "Bogart" as a name for some of the company's furniture, according to a story in the Hollywood Reporter.
The suit was filed by the estate that controls the intellectual property rights of the late actor Humphrey Bogart, claiming Ashley's use of the name "Bogart Blue" infringed on the estate's famous namesake.
In the furniture industry, the name "Bogart" was licensed in 2001 by Thomasville Furniture for its Bogart Collection, and brought the estate more than $5 million in royalties over a decade, the paper said. The license has since expired.
Lisa Adair, vice president of design and merchandising for Ashley, said in a declaration that the name was not based on Humphrey Bogart but on Bogart, Ga., and was chosen from publicly available lists that included the names of rivers, parks, cities, lakes, streets, baby names and the like. She said the "Blue" in the name was based on the color of the product, a sofa.
Judge Clay Land's decision clears the way for the courts to determine if Ashley had violated rights to the Bogart name and, if so, whether damages should be awarded. He said in a 43-page ruling that the Bogart estate hasn't yet provided evidence that use of the name has caused consumers confusion, diluted trademarks or publicity rights, or was a deceptive trade practice but was moving the case along anyway.
He also declined to dismiss an expert's testimony that Ashley's use of the Bogart name was worth a guarantee of $1 million per year against more than 3% of sales.
Earlier this year, Ashley Furniture and the estate of Marlon Brando both claimed victory over the use of the Brando name on a collection of Ashley's upholstery, with the court awarding the manufacturer $356,000 for the use of "Brando-Cocoa" and "Brando-Café" on its furniture. Ashley said the amount was "a mere fraction of the amount demanded."