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Canada Goose sues International Clothiers over parka knockoffs

A well-known outerwear manufacturer billing itself as a “Canadian success story” is suing a retailer over trademark infringement, accusing it of making shoddy replicas of the distinctive Canada Goose parkas.

International Clothiers Inc. has intentionally designed a logo and positioned it on jackets to mimic the Canada Goose Arctic Program design trademark, it’s alleged in the lawsuit.

Canada Goose Inc. filed a statement of claim late last month asking the Federal Court to stop International Clothiers from using its Canada Weather Gear and Super Triple Goose logos, “or any confusingly similar mark.”

That circular logo is what distinguishes a Canada Goose jacket from others, the company says.

“Canada Goose prides itself on, and has become known for, designing and manufacturing its clothing products in Canada, and ensuring that they are of the highest quality,” it writes in the statement of claim.

International Clothiers has been selling such coats since December 2009 with not only a similar logo to Canada Goose and positioned on the same upper-right portion of the sleeve, but several other features such as the look of the pockets, Canada Goose alleges.

“All of which make it highly reminiscent of a Canada Goose jackets, but of inferior quality,” the company writes in its lawsuit.

While Canada Goose is a “Canadian success story,” it says, International Clothiers “is a manufacturer and retailer of low to mid-quality clothing products,” most of which aren’t made in Canada, the outerwear company alleges.

The allegations have not been proven in court. A statement of defence has not yet been filed, but International Clothiers could not be reached for comment.

Canada Goose isn’t yet claiming a specific amount in damages, as it writes in the lawsuit that so far only International Clothiers knows how much money has been made from the alleged infringement.

Canada Goose itself has sold more than $225 million in coats and accessories — more than 600,000 items — across Canada since 2005, it writes in the court documents. The products are sold in more than 200 retail outlets across the country. It also revealed it has spent $2 million since 2005 marketing Canada Goose products in North America.

International Clothiers has been aware that Canada Goose objects to its Super Triple Goose jacket, but hasn’t stopped any of its “deceptive trade practices,” Canada Goose alleges.

The company has also sometimes published print ads promoting its jackets as Canada Goose products, but has done nothing more than apologize and doesn’t dissuade customers from thinking they are buying Canada Goose coats, it’s alleged in the lawsuit.

In addition, Canada Goose alleges that International Clothiers’ Super Triple Goose jacket is in itself a misnomer. An independent laboratory analyzed the filling and found that goose feathers and down constitute about one per cent of the material, the bulk of which was actually duck feathers and down.

The lawsuit was filed on International Clothiers on Jan. 31 and they have 30 days to file a statement of defence.

International Clothiers is owned by Fairweather Ltd., which recently reached a deal with American chain Target Corp. to stop using the Target name.

Target had filed a trademark infringement claim against Toronto-based Fairweather, which also operates a group of clothing outlets in Canada under the name Target Apparel.

Target, known for offering designer fashion collaborations at discount chain prices, plans to open its first Canadian stores in 2013. Fairweather also owns department stores Les Ailes De La Mode in Quebec.