NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 9, 2013) — Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations L.L.C. is suing North Fond du Lac, Wis.-based Iron Cross Innovations L.L.C., claiming trademark infringement.
In the complaint filed Oct. 4 in the Middle Tennessee federal district court, Bridgestone Americas claims Iron Cross manufactures and sells Bridgestone logo lettering kits for tire sidewalls, despite Bridgestone's explicit refusal to grant Iron Cross a license.
Chad Gantner, president of Iron Cross, said his company has never distributed the Bridgestone logo in any way. "We explained that to a Bridgestone lawyer about two years ago," he told Tire Business.
Bridgestone said it spends tens of millions of dollars annually promoting, marketing and advertising its logo, charging in its suit that Iron Cross' misappropriation of the logo creates confusion among the public and causes irreparable damage to the Bridgestone brand name.
"When our customers see the Bridgestone logo on a tire, they expect and depend on a high level of quality and performance," the Nashville-based tire maker said in a statement regarding the lawsuit. "They deserve to know with absolute certainty that the tire was, in fact, designed and manufactured by Bridgestone."
Bridgestone seeks a permanent injunction against Iron Cross forbidding its use of the Bridgestone logo, plus treble damages and treble whatever profits Iron Cross made from selling the logo kits.
Mr. Gantner said he hasn't seen a copy of the complaint, and that he first learned of it Oct. 7 when a reporter for a local Nashville newspaper called him about it.
Iron Cross Innovations markets kits under the Tred Wear name that allow vehicle owners to transform their tires into raised-white-letter sidewalls with adhesive-backed rubber-based white letters and numbers cut to fit over the original tire lettering. The company markets heavily to owners of semi-tractors, stating the letter will last the life of the tire when installed correctly. The firm even states its products have survived a retreading process.