Trade dress litigation may involve disputes over packaging, marketing, product design, and more. Trade dress expert witnesses are knowledgeable in trademark infringement, licensing, brand dilution, and related matters. In Trader Joe’s Company v. Michael Norman Hallatt, dba Pirate Joe’s, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Trader Joe’s regarding a risk to the grocery chain’s brand.
Pirate Joe’s buys Trader Joe’s goods in the US and transports them to Vancouver. There’s a significant markup when the product reaches the Canadian market and the plaintiff alleges that Hallatt does not transport or store TJ merchandise “in a manner consistent with the strict quality control standards used by Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s has received at least one complaint from a consumer who became sick after eating a Trader Joe’s-branded product she purchased from Pirate Joe’s.” The appellate court ruled in TJ’s favor and remanded the case to district court.
9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, filed August 26, 2016:
Trader Joe’s does not franchise its intellectual property or license others to sell its products. Trader Joe’s maintains strict quality control standards when transporting and storing perishable goods to protect the safety of its customers and to ensure that Trader Joe’s stores sell only fresh, high-quality goods…
Trader Joe’s alleges that Hallatt uses its intellectual property to solicit business for Pirate Joe’s: He advertises his wares with Trader Joe’s trademarks, operates a website accessible from the United States, displays an exterior sign at Pirate Joe’s that uses a font similar to the trademarked “Trader Joe’s” and designed the Pirate Joe’s store to mimic Trader Joe’s trade dress.
Trade dress is designed to represent a company’s brand. The trade dress expert witness is called upon to testify in cases alleging the confusion of corporate design, licensing, brand dilution, and more. They are also able to consult and testify on Lanham Act, the federal statute that governs trademarks, service marks, and unfair competition.