There likely aren’t many examples in American jurisprudence that feature the concept of the “Ball Hammock” playing a central role in a case. Nonetheless, that’s the issue at hand in a lawsuit filed by Boulder-based apparel maker Shinesty Inc. against online underwear seller Tommy John.
The lawsuit, filed late last month in U.S. District Court in Denver, claims that Shinesty has been using the trademarked “Ball Hammock” and “Ball Hammock” marks — which “symbolize valuable goodwill” for the brand — to describe elements of its men’s underwear line since 2017. Tommy John, Shinesty alleges, began using “confusingly similar” terms in blog posts in late 2020.
The suit alleges that Tommy John is including references to the “Ball Hammock” in the blog posts on the website “to increase the search engine optimization results, (and) to return a higher-ranked result when customers are using an online search engine, like Google, to search for such terms in connection with clothing and underwear.”
Shinesty claims that Tommy John, representatives of which did not respond to requests for comment, has infringed on its trademark rights and is engaged in unfair competition.
“We are a fun brand with fun products but we take any attempt to infringe upon our creativity, innovation, design and quality very seriously,” Shinesty CEO Chris White said in a statement. “Despite our numerous friendly attempts to protect our trademark by reaching out directly to Tommy John, we’ve been forced to take action. We will vigorously protect our bestselling underwear and trademark rights against any competitor, no matter how large. We’ve invested significant time and resources growing Ball Hammock into the memorable brand it is today.”
White said he reached out personally to Tommy John executives, and Shinesty lawyers sent cease-and-desist warnings to no avail.
“We’ve built a strong brand connection with our customers, and we intend to protect it,” White’s statement said. “As far as we’re concerned we’re the original, and only, Ball Hammock brand of underwear.”
Shinesty is seeking an award of treble damages, the specific amount to be determined at trial, and an injunction barring Tommy John from using the “Ball Hammock” marks.
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