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Union Carbide v. Everready

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Facts: Union Carbide, Inc. sued Ever-Ready?, Inc. for trademark infringement. Union Carbide claimed that its trademark “Everready” was infringed.

Procedural History: Plaintiff appealed a judgment of the United States District Court for Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, which held that plaintiff's registered trademark was not valid and defendant's use of certain terms on its products did not constitute trademark infringement or unfair competition.

Issue: Whether the Union Carbide trademark had obtained incontestability status and whether it had obtained secondary meaning?

Holding: The court reversed the lower court's decision, finding plaintiff's trademark was valid under both incontestability statutes, and because it had secondary meaning. The similarity between plaintiff's trademark and the terms used on defendant's products, evidence of actual consumer confusion, and results of consumer surveys supported the finding of a substantial likelihood of confusion.

Discussion: Plaintiff sold electric batteries, flashlights, miniature bulbs and bulbs for high intensity lamps packaged in blister packages under the registered trademark since 1909. Therefore, the Plaintiff had obtained secondary meaning in its trademark. Also, the trademark was incontestable and the Defendant had not shown cause to challenge the incontestability of the Plaintiff’s trademark. The court further held that the similarity of marks, evidence of actual consumer confusion, and consumer surveys showed a substantial likelihood of confusion and therefore found the Defendant liable.

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