As promised, Transworld Business caught up with Bob McKnight to hear a little bit more about the court case between Quiksilver Inc. and Kymsta Corp. Here's some of what we talked about.
This case has been going on for a long time. How did this whole thing get started?
There was this confusion that started a while ago in 2000, so we contacted them and said 'hey look, we have a problem here. We have this brand called Roxy and you have this thing called Roxywear, and you're obviously moving out of the space you used to be in and moving into our space. We need to talk.'
And they said 'screw you.'
You can talk to anybody who has brands or trademarks and these kinds of skirmishes happen all the time. You're always trying to avoid confusion. Usually both parties of business people have a meeting of the minds, they sort the thing out, and they move on without going into any kinds of threats, or eventually into lawsuits. And court, for Heaven's sakes, that's the last thing you want to do. But these people have always been in the mode of threatening us either verbally to our face, through their lawyers, or in the press.
All they wanted was money—money to go way, money to buy their trademark. We even sat down to try and negotiate that. We handed them a figure we thought was reasonable just to avoid court costs, and they put a ten-times-multiple on it, and we said 'forget it guys. We'll go to court then.'
We beat them the first time around, and the judge took it away from the jury because the evidence was so overwhelmingly compelling in our favor. We proved all the facts, and all the merits on trademark law: prior use, first use, continued use. We proved we had our registrations all done legally and properly.
Their whole case was about trying to prove that we are bad people, that we lied, that we lied about when we started Roxy, and that we fraudulently registered the trademarks. The whole thing was a scam. It was just unbelievable what these people were putting in front of the juries in these two cases!
So when this thing finally finished and we got the jury judgement—which took them about ten minutes to deliberate, by the way—and then the judge spent three weeks to draft that thing you saw [court-findings.pdf]. I mean I think it's pretty compelling that both the first Judge and the second Judge made it clear that Roxy is the trademark that prevails and these people need to stop using Roxywear, because it's confusing.
It feels really good! […] We have stayed quiet and steady and gone through the whole process of court and now it feels really good to get vindicated.
Do you have an estimate of how much this cost Quiksilver in legal fees?
I would say it's over 2 million dollars.
As the prevailing party, will Quiksilver seek to collect damages?
Only if they operate outside the ruling of the court. They have 18 months to wind it down. If they were to do something in those 18 months or after, then we'd definitely go after them and get damages. But that is not our intent.
We just want to stop the confusion.
Having been through this process, what have you learned?
In trademark law, the second there is confusion you have to get on it and protect your trademarks.
The other thing we learned was how irresponsible and wacko lawyers can be in courtroom tricks. […] These people took every trick out of the bag to try and sway the jury to make them think we are bad people. And to me it's absolutely repulsive, some of the stuff they did!
I don't want to get into it, but talk about Perry Mason moments and courtroom theatrics!
Click Here for the entire Transworld Business Web exclusive, which includes comments from the chief lawyers on both sides and a complete time line of the case.
Click Here for an exclusive interview with Kymsta Corp Owner Roxanne Heptner conducted on Fri. April 18.
Make Sure To Check Out The May Issue Of Transworld Business For The Full Story.