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Pendleton Suing Kmart

Pendleton Woolen Mills, the 140-year-old blanket, apparel and home fashions producer, has filed a trademark infringement suit against Kmart Corp., in federal court here.

Pendleton said its suit claims Kmart “is capitalizing on the Pendleton brand and reputation” by selling a sheet set that features “an Indian Trade blanket pattern that closely copies distinctive elements of Pendleton's classic Teepee design.”

Moreover, the company said, packaging identifies the product as “Pendleton ... flannel sheet set.”

Pendleton is a century-old producer of jacquard woolen blankets and has been widely known for its Native American motifs and its ties to Native American nations, principally in the Northwestern states. More recently, it has become known for its apparel products, including the woolen Pendleton shirts popularized by The Beach Boys, who adopted the look and the name, first calling themselves The Pendletones before changing their name to The Beach Boys. In recent years, the company has diversified into a broad range of home fashions products.

Pendleton said the Teepee motif at issue in the suit has been in the company's line in its current configuration for five years, and in an earlier version for more than 80 years. Pendleton's 64-by-80-inch woolen blankets are typically priced at $170 retail.

In a statement, the company said, “Pendleton Woolen Mills has not authorized or licensed Kmart to use the famous Pendleton trademark. Likewise, the packaging and sheets prominently display Pendleton's Teepee Logo trademark without authorization of Pendleton.”

Mort Bishop III, Pendleton president, said, “Our reputation for quality is the hallmark of Pendleton's products. Kmart is using our name and taking advantage of our famous brand symbols without our prior knowledge or permission. Pendleton believes that Kmart's actions will confuse and deceive consumers about the source and quality of the infringing merchandise.

“We will take every appropriate step within our power to protect our brand,” said Bishop. “We cannot allow Kmart or any other company to unlawfully distort our valuable brand image and create confusion in the marketplace.”

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