Abercrombie & Fitch Threatens To Sue Merchants In Hollister, California For Trademark Infringement

Taking a page out of Monster Cable’s playbook, Abercrombie & Fitch has threatened to sue merchants in Hollister, California who sell clothes bearing their town’s name. A&F claims that local merchants putting “Hollister” on their clothes will confuse notoriously inept surfers who can’t distinguish between a town and A&F’s Hollister Co. line. So what happens if the locals defy the upscale bully? According to David Cupps, Abercrombie’s general counsel and harasser-in-chief, “If they try, they would get a call and much more.”

The controversy over the name heated up in 2006 when Stacey Crummett, chief executive of Hollister-based Rag City Blues, added the word “Hollister” to the label of her vintage bluejeans. In response to her trademark application, Abercrombie & Fitch attorneys sent her a letter alleging she was violating the company’s trademark and threatening to sue.

Crummett, who runs the business with her husband, said she added the name simply to identify the location of her headquarters. But she backed down and removed the name from the labels.

“They are a lot bigger than us,” she said. “I said, ‘Let’s just not argue.’ “

Once word spread about Crummett’s run-in with Abercrombie & Fitch, locals and city officials began to fume, saying that the clothing firm was preventing them from showing their hometown pride on T-shirts and jackets.

“To me, it’s a bunch of baloney,” said Raul Gonzalez, 70, working at his one-room barbershop on 6th Street. “We were here long before they thought of [the apparel line].”

Even students at Hollister’s San Benito High School wonder if they are violating Abercrombie & Fitch’s trademark by wearing shirts emblazed with the school nickname, the Hollister Haybalers.

Hollister City Attorney Stephanie Atigh insists that A&F’s lawyers are wearing their turtlenecks a little too tight. “There is no way you can trademark Hollister, Calif.,” she said. “It’s a geographical place.”

Hollister, Calif., is at odds with Abercrombie over name [The Los Angeles Times] (Thanks to Melisa!)