harley davidson sues urban

Harley-Davidson sues multinational clothing company Urban Outfitters.  Feel like deja vu to anyone?  Probably because this isn’t the first time Harley-Davidson has sued Urban Outfitters.   Back in March 2014, Harley-Davidson sued Urban for trademark infringement.  

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Division, on Friday, January 6, 2017.  

image: H-D’s complaint

The case centers on bodysuits sold by Urban.  The motorcycle manufacturer says that Urban Outfitters has infringed on its trademarks and violated section 32(1) of the Lanham Act for trademark unfairly competing, counterfeiting, and falsely designating origin.  Essentially Harley-Davidson is suing for what it sees as a rip off by the clothing retail manufacturer of its genuine products.  

Harley is claiming that Urban Outfitters used the Harley-Davidson’s genuine products but removed Harley licensed tags and replaced them with their own.   And that the genuine Harley-Davidson t-shirts, tops, and shirts had been “altered” by the retail clothing company.

According to the lawsuit, “Urban Outfitters has used the Harley-Davidson trademark in a variety of unauthorized ways that falsely suggest and are likely to create the mistaken impression that Urban Outfitters’ products come from or are authorized, approved, and/or licensed by Harley-Davidson when they are not.”

Harley Davidson is asking for an injunction on sales, profits, and statutory damages of $2 million per trademark, in addition to damages and costs.

The famous orange and black Harley-Davidson logo is one of the most recognized in the world. And has long been a trademark for the motorcycle manufacturer.  But there is good and bad in all things.  Because along with all the wonderful notoriety of Harley-Davidson being a highly recognizable logo brand comes the downfall of many others trying to copy and sell ripped-off Harley products.  


Karen Davidson, Granddaughter of Harley-Davidson Co-Founder and Creative Director Harley-Davidson

And Karen Davidson, the granddaughter of one of the company’s founders and now creative director of the company, has stated that the Harley logo is an integral part of the Harley fashion and merchandise products.  Which is why Harley’s team of lawyers must maintain constant vigilance on a national and international level to make sure they search and prosecute offenders copying the brand’s goodwill.  

Harley-Davidson has used and promoted its “Harley Davidson” brand since 1903–the year the company was founded in Milwaukee.  (The brand didn’t start selling clothes until 1912.  However, the recognizable bar and shield logo was  introduced in 1910.)  Moreover, the company’s “fanatical brand loyalty” is so notable that it has even been the subject of a Harvard Business School case study.  

Let’s ride…this one all the way to courtroom.

The case is H-D USA, LLC and Harley-Davidson Motor Company Group, LLC v. Urban Outfitters, Inc. and Free People LLC.  View a PDF of the lawsuit below. 


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Chelsea Wold is an Associate Attorney. Chelsea works with clients in various industries and of all sizes on domestic and global brand protection issues. Chelsea’s practice focuses on intellectual property portfolio management, including domestic and international trademark clearance, prosecution, and enforcement, copyright and trademark counseling. Chelsea received her J.D. degree from the Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law with a Certificate in Law, Science and Technology with a focus on Intellectual Property and Health Law. While in law school Chelsea received Pedrick Scholar Honors (dean’s list) and the Distinction for Highest Pro Bono service. She also graduated with dual degrees from the University of Arizona where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. Chelsea was on the Fiesta Bowl Queen and Court while in college, serving as a spokeswoman for The Fiesta Bowl Organization. She was also on the dean’s list from 2009-2013. On the personal side, Chelsea has her own blog that she started as a journalism major in college. Creative writing is a hobby and creative outlet for Chelsea.