On September 19, 2017, Victorinox, the manufacturer of the iconic Swiss army knife, prevailed in a trademark infringement case against Dallas-based e-commerce company B&F System. Victorinox has a registered trademark covering red handles on pocket knives, and became aware of B&F’s red-handled knives in 2013. Victorinox sued, claiming that B&F not only copied their iconic red handle, but also the placement of the tools, the inclusion of a small key ring, and even a “Royal Crest” insignia with a white cross that looked similar to the Vicorinox’s Swiss army knife cross.
B&F claimed that a red handle was not exclusive to Vicotinox because other companies had used it in the past, but any evidence they might have had was deemed inadmissible. B&F also claimed that their mark was different enough not to cause consumer confusion, but the court found the similarities between the knives overwhelming. Finally, B&F claimed that Victorinox’s mark was too generic and petitioned the court to cancel the mark, but the court refused. In 2015, the court found that Vicorinox had a valid trademark and B&F had no defenses left to rely on.
After a lengthy hearing regarding damages, the court assessed a roughly $3.5 million judgment in favor of Victorinox, including $1.3 million in attorneys fees and roughly $500,000 in pre-judgment interest. The court also issued an injunction stopping B&F from selling knives with red symbols. However, on appeal, the 2nd Circuit narrowed the scope of the injunction only to cover pocket knives, leaving B&F potentially free to pursue other lawful activity, such as selling kitchen knives with the “Royal Crest” insignia.