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Lynns Concepts' day in court.

LOS ANGELES--A court reversed a portion of a temporary restraining order granted on behalf of Homer Laughlin China Co. against Lynns Concepts last month.

In the United States District Court, Northern District of Alabama, Chief Judge Sam Pointer also denied Homer Laughlin's motion for a preliminary injunction against Lynns Concepts. Homer Laughlin has alleged that Concentrix brand dinnerware by Lynns Concepts infringes upon the trademark, trade dress and trade style of Homer Laughlin's Fiesta, its best-selling dinnerware line.

Yet the portion of the original temporary restraining order calling for Lynns Concepts, and its sister companies, Butler's and Importers Warehouse, to cease and desist the use of the Fiesta name in promoting the Concentrix brand was upheld.

"The key from our perspective is that the preliminary injunction regarding the use of our name is still in effect," said Martin Foley, a principal in Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, the law firm representing Homer Laughlin. "The litigation is still on."

The remaining portion of the original restraining order granted in late December 1997 also stated that Lynns Concepts was "restrained and enjoined frommarketing, distributing, advertising, selling or offering for sale the following: the Concentrix brand dinner and salad plates in the colors Saffron, Dusty Rose, Marine or Sea Mist."

In vacating part of the temporary restraining order, Judge Pointer stated he did not believe irreparable harm was done to Homer Laughlin by allowing Lynns Concepts to continue marketing its Concentrix line of dinnerware. The judge found "major differences in the products," although there were a number of similarities between the Fiesta and Concentrix lines.

"We are extremely pleased by this ruling, since the reversal of a temporary restraining order is an uncommon judicial event," said Thomas Chan, principal with Chan Law Group, which represents Lynns Concepts. "But most significantly, this was coming on the heels of an opposite decision in Homer Laughlin's lawsuit against Target over the Fiesta dinnerware."

Chan was referring to the refusal of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to overturn a preliminary injunction ordering Target Stores to remove its private label Cantinaware in November 1997.

Homer Laughlin has been vigilant in protecting its Fiesta dinnerware. The line, which was designed in the 1930s, has once again become a top seller in department and specialty stores. Fiesta also is compatible with two key current trends in housewares dinnerware: solid colors and open stock.
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Author:Kehoe, Ann-Margaret
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Mar 9, 1998
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