Harley settles lawsuit against Forever 21

Dispute was over logo on motorcycle-style jacket

Harley-Davidson headquarters
Harley-Davidson Inc.'s headquarters in Milwaukee.
Harley's lawsuit alleges this jacket sold by Forever 21 infringes on its trademark bar and shield logo.
Harley’s lawsuit alleged this jacket sold by Forever 21 infringes on its trademark bar and shield logo.

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. has settled a lawsuit against Los Angeles-based Forever 21 over the retailer selling motorcycle-style jackets with logos resembling Harley’s iconic bar and shield logo.

The lawsuit was filed in September in U.S. District Court for Eastern Wisconsin and the two sides informed Judge Lynn Adelman earlier this week they had reached a settlement. The case has been closed pending final dismissal.

A spokeswoman for Harley declined to comment on the settlement, citing confidentiality. Forever 21 did not return a message seeking comment.

Harley’s lawsuit said the patch used on Forever 21’s jackets was likely to create the mistaken impression the products came from Harley or were authorized by the company.

While the Harley logo includes the words “motor” and “cycles” in the shield, the Forever 21 patch says “motor” and “club,” according to photos included in the lawsuit. The Forever 21 patch also says “commander New York” in place of the “Harley-Davidson” name and has a slightly different shape.

Harley’s lawsuit cited a 2009 trademark case that describes the bar and shield logo as “a famous mark for at least motorcycles, clothing and headwear” regardless of wording.

The patch on a motorcycle-style jacket sold at Forever 21.
The patch on a motorcycle-style jacket sold at Forever 21.

The lawsuit sought an order preventing Forever 21 from using the logo, requiring the destruction of unauthorized products, paying for corrective advertising, paying $2 million in statutory damages per mark per type of product, giving Harley any profits from the sale of counterfeit items, and compensatory and punitive damages.

Court filings did not disclose any terms of the settlement.

When the lawsuit was filed, Harley spokeswoman Maripat Blankenheim said the company’s brand is one of its most important assets.

“We take great pride in the quality of the products that carry our trademarks, and we are legally required to exercise control over the use of our trademarks,” Blankenheim said. “We make every effort to ensure consumers are not confused by the source of merchandise bearing our trademarks.”

The Forever 21 case was the second trademark lawsuit the company filed this year.

Harley's bar and shield logo.
Harley’s bar and shield logo.

The company sued online retailer Gear Launch and a number of associated companies in August alleging they were selling Harley branded merchandise without authorization.

The Gear Launch case is still pending.

Harley also sued Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters in 2014 for selling Harley clothing that had been altered or reconstructed. That case was ultimately settled.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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