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July 24, 2014

Ganz USA and Noelle LLC File Copyright Complaint Against Transpac, Inc.

On January 10, 2014 Ganz USA LLC (“Ganz”) of Marietta, Georgia and Noelle LLC(“Noelle”) of Cannon Falls, Minnesota (collectively, "plaintiffs") filed a complaint against Transpac Imports, Inc. (“Transpac”) of Vacaville, California, alleging copyright infringement and Federal trade dress infringement, unfair competition and false advertising under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a).

The complaint revolves around the popular “Kissing Krystal” product line which Ganz licenses from Noelle.  The Kissing Krystal products are decorative ornaments that include faux mistletoe, glitter and other floral patterns and decorations on multifaceted clear acrylic shapes to create a pleasing aesthetic, and they are sold throughout thousands of gift retailers including Kirkland’s, Macy’s, and Bed, Bath & Beyond.  According to the complaint, approximately 1.5 million units have been sold since 2009, with an MSRP nearing $20 million. The complaint cites the following 8 registered “Kissing Krystal” copyrights as having been allegedly infringed.

1. Blessing of the Harvest, Reg. No. VA0001743072

2. Christmas Kissing Krystal Angel, Reg. No. VA0001743066

3. Diamond Kissing Krystal, Reg. No. VAu001117953

4. Frosted Sugarplum Winterwonderland, Reg. No. VAu001117956

5. Kissing Krystal, Reg. No. VA0001739705

6. Kissing Krystal Maple Leaf, Reg. No. VA0001841655

7. Kissing Krystalball, Reg. No. VAu001117954

8. Mini Kissing Krystal, Reg. No. VA0001743070

Sometime before January 2009, Transpac and Noelle entered into a licensing agreement allowing Transpac to produce, manufacture, sell, and distribute Kissing Krystal ornaments in accordance with Noelle’s standards. Transpac also retained sell-off rights for inventory purchased prior to the termination date of the agreement.  According to the complaint Transpac actively showed and sold the “Kissing Krystal Collection” pursuant to the licensing agreement from January 2009 until termination of the agreement on December 28, 2013.

Kissing Krystals IP Intellectual Property Copyright Litigation

The complaint goes on to allege that Transpac is now showing and selling its own line of allegedly infringing Kissing Krystal ornaments consisting of suspended sculptures and/or 3-D artwork made of glittered, faux mistletoe and other floral patterns that adorn various multifaceted clear acrylic shapes.  The plaintiffs allege Transpac is now substituting inferior quality knockoffs, is passing them off as a continuation of the Kissing Krystal product line and confusing customers about which product they are purchasing, and is taking orders for their alleged knockoffs without having sold the remainder of the licensed product which they received from Ganz.

Accordingly, the plaintiffs seek a preliminary injunction restraining any further infringement of the “Kissing Krystal” collection and/or trade dress, a finding of infringement of the collection and the trade dress, and unfair competition and false designation of origin, along with trebled damages for allegedly willful infringement.

The case is Ganz U.S.A. Llc. et al v. Transpac Imports, Inc. Docket no: 1:14-cv-00081-SCJ, filed January 10, 2014 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, and is assigned to Judge Steve C. Jones.

Copyright © 2014 Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC. All Rights Reserved.

About the Author

Jonathan S. S. Howell, Intellectual Property Attorney, Womble Carlyle law firm
Member

Jonathan Howell is a member of the Intellectual Property Practice Group and the Mechanical Patent Team in Womble Carlyle’s Atlanta office.

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