October 20, 2014

Abercrombie and Affliction in an "American Fight"

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. recently filed suit against Affliction Holdings over its use of "AF" on its "American Fighter" brand of clothing. The two clothing companies have come to blows over Affliction's plastering of "AF" all over its apparel.

In case you're unfamiliar with Affliction, Affliction appeals to audiences interested in a rock & roll, moto culture, tattoo culture, vintage Americana, mixed martial arts, and impact sports. The American Fighter line no doubt references MMA and is a mixed-martial arts-themed line of graphic T-shirts and other apparel. On the other hand, Abercrombie & Fitch (one of my favorite brands), is classically neo-preppy with a somewhat edgy tone. Though Abercrombie recently announced that it planned to "take the North American logo business to practically nothing" in the spring 2015 season, it was traditionally known for splaying its A&F acronym on many of its apparel items.

Abercrombie & Fitch has used the "AF" acronym on clothing for approximately twenty years, and owns eight federal registrations for different iterations of the acronym. It's no wonder A&F is feeling affliction over this; take a look at the side-by-side below. Affliction is using an iteration of "AF" that looks identical to Abercrombie's use of "AF":

Af Marks
Identical, right?
Af 2

The suit claims that, "Affliction has acted with the intention of trading off A & F's goodwill in the AF Marks, and of diverting to itself persons who are interested in the products of A & F." I have to admit that I find Affliction's blatent copying of "AF" to be somewhat ironic. After all, who would have thought that a brand rooted in mixed martial arts and moto culture would want to be affiliated with a "casual luxury" lifestyle brand.

Will Abercrombie get the TKO on this one? We'll keep you posted.

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