Georgia Knife Companies Cross Swords in Complaints by Bud K and United Cutlery Alleging Copyright and Trademark Infringement Against Mutual Competitor Wholesale Gallery
On October 8, 2013 United Cutlery Corporation (“UC”) and Bud K World Wide, Inc. (“Bud K,” collectively, “plaintiffs”), both of Moultrie, Georgia filed separate suits against Wholesale Gallery Inc., (“Wholesale Gallery”) of Dallas, Georgia. Both complaints allege trademark infringement, dilution, copyright infringement and unfair competition, and both complaints request injunctive relief. Bud K’s complaint also includes additional allegations of cybersquatting and false designation of origin.
Both UC and Bud K are in the business of selling merchandise such as knives, swords, survival equipment, tomahawks, axes, crossbows and other miscellaneous items through their respective websitesunitedcutlery.com, budk.com, and budk.org. Bud K also sells other items such as self-defense weapons, stun guns, pepper sprays, handcuffs, batons, military surplus items such as stoves, canteens, rucksacks, gas masks, airsoft guns, BB guns, air guns and a wide variety of other miscellaneous items. In addition to the aforementioned, United Cutlery also offers for sale decorative movie and television show replica items such as swords or other weapons. The two companies share ownership, with United Cutlery having been bought by Bud K after filing for bankruptcy in 2007.
Bud K's cyber-squatting complaint stems from allegations that Wholesale Gallery registered the domain name “budk.net” through GoDaddy.com and used that domain name to redirect the general public to a website “kaswords.com” through which Wholesale Gallery offers competing goods for sale. Namely, these items include collectible swords, knives, throwing knives, axes, airsoft guns and a number of other related products. Both Bud K and UC's complaints also allege that Wholesale Gallery registered the domain name “swordsswords.com” and that Wholesale Gallery uses marks belonging to the plaintiffs to sell competing goods similar or the same as those sold on kaswords.com.
In addition, the complaints allege unauthorized use of several word marks owned by the plaintiffs and unauthorized use of images taken from the plaintiffs’ respective websites. For United Cutlery, the alleged unauthorized use includes use of the following marks: registered mark ELITE FORCES (trademark number 3,081,970), for use with a number of handtools, blades, swords, axes, and the like, and unregistered marks SOA, ONE SHOT ONE KILL, WE ARE THE BUMP IN THE NIGHT, and DEAD AND NOT DEAD ENOUGH, all for use in connection with knives and similar goods. For Bud K, the alleged unauthorized use includes use of another set of marks including the registered mark BUDK (trademark number 3,214,533) for use with hand tools (knives, hatchets, tomahawks, etc.) and the mark SECRET AGENT for use with knives and swords. Images demonstrating the alleged unauthorized use of word marks and alleged unauthorized copying of website images are reproduced below using screenshots taken from the parties’ respective sites.
Alleged unauthorized use of Bud K's image for a 'skull gauntlet' item. Bud K's website appears to the left, swordsswords.com in the middle, and kaswords.com to the right.
Alleged unauthorized use of the SOA and ONE SHOT ONE KILL marks. United Cutlery's website appears to the left and kaswords.com appears to the right.
The cases are United Cutlery Corporation v. Wholesale Gallery, Inc. No. 4:13-cv-00242-HLM and Bud K World Wide, Inc. v. Wholesale Gallery, Inc. No. 4:13-cv-002410-HLM. Both are in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Rome Division, and both are assigned to Judge Harold L. Murphy.
Jonathan Howell contributed to this article.