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Oblon, Spivak Logs A Court Victory For Car-Freshner's "Little Trees"; Counterfeit Air Freshener Trees Turned Over For Destruction

Date: 
Oct 11, 2002
Practice Area(s): 
Trademark

Alexandria, VA -- The intellectual property law firm Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt, P.C. has won a trademark and trade dress infringement lawsuit for Car-Freshner Corporation of Watertown, NY, the company known for the popular "Little Trees" air fresheners often found hanging from car rear view mirrors. At issue was the importation, distribution and sale of counterfeit vanilla-scented tree shaped air fresheners with a patriotic design, by Rite Way Wholesale and Distributors, Inc. of New York. Prior to the Federal Court of the Eastern District of New York's signature yesterday on the Consent Judgment requiring the surrender of the counterfeit tree-shaped air fresheners, Rite Way had sent Car-Freshner's lawyers their entire inventory for destruction, along with a penalty payment. The Stars & Stripes vanilla-scented air freshener is one of the most popular of the "Little Tree" air fresheners, according to Richard Flechtner, the president of Car-Freshner. Flechtner explained that this is the first time counterfeit tree shaped air fresheners have been found in the United States, and said, "The infringers barked up the wrong tree -- we were not going to sit idly by while inferior imitation products were being passed off for the real thing." In August, a sales representative for Car-Freshner spotted the second-rate counterfeit vanilla-scented tree shaped air fresheners with a patriotic design, being sold by Rite Way. Car-Freshner immediately filed a trademark and trade dress infringement lawsuit. The familiar "Little Trees" air fresheners have been sold in the United States since 1952 and have achieved icon status. They have made appearances in numerous movies, including Ocean's Eleven, as well as popular television programs like the David Letterman Show, Suddenly Susan, and Roseanne. It was no accident that the knock-offs included the Stars & Stripes design, according to Roberta S. Bren, counsel for Car-Freshner Corporation. Bren said, "Counterfeiters know what is popular and often take advantage of trends, even patriotic ones." Car-Freshner Corporation was represented by Roberta S. Bren and Brian Darville of Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt. For more than 30 years, Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt, P.C., in Alexandria, VA., has remained one of the largest intellectual property specialty firms in the United States. The firm assists clients with a full range of intellectual property services, including litigation matters in all courts. The firm also continues to be unmatched in its handling of transactional matters relating to intellectual property.