Hockey stick firms in trademark battle

By:René Bruemmer

A battle of the trademarks is brewing between two of Canada’s hockey giants.

Bauer Hockey Corp. filed a statement of claim in federal court against Sher-Wood Hockey Inc. on Monday, ordering them to desist from marketing and producing a new line of high-end hockey sticks and to destroy or hand over any products already created.

At issue is the name: Sher-Wood’s new sticks, first released in August, are dubbed Nexon. Bauer contends this is too similar to the name it has chosen for a full family of products it is launching in June 2012, called Nexus. It’s the first new product line Bauer has rolled out since the Vapor skate debuted in 1997.

In its legal proceedings filed this week, Bauer’s lawyers argue the similarity is no coincidence.

“The use by the Defendant Sher-Wood in Canada of the Nexon trademark in association with hockey products will likely lead consumers to the inference that the Plaintiff Bauer Hockey is the source of the Nexon hockey products or that the Defendant Sher-Wood is in some way approved, authorized or endorsed by the Plaintiff Bauer Hockey or that there is some business connection between the parties,” the statement of claim reads. “Sher-Wood Hockey Inc. has passed off its wares as the wares of the Plaintiff Bauer Hockey Corp., contrary to section 7(c) of the Trade-marks Act.”

Bauer is seeking a permanent injunction restraining Sher-Wood from manufacturing, selling or advertising the sticks or any other hockey products with the Nexon trademark. It also calls for Sher-Wood to hand over or destroy any sticks, products or logos that could be confused with the Nexus trademark. Bauer also might press for damages.

On the home page of Sher-Wood’s website, the name Nexon predominates, with Anaheim Ducks player Bobby Ryan clutching a Nexon stick. “The true one piece stick is here,” reads the ad. Sher-Wood has four collection lines, including the Nexon brand, most of which feature protective gear along with sticks. So far, the Nexon line has six types of composite hockey sticks, ranging in price from $189 to $59.

A spokesperson for Sher-Wood said the company could only comment when their CEO was back from overseas in two weeks.

Bauer made its official launch of the Nexus line in late October at the BauerWorld 2012 trade show in Orlando. But players like Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals have been wearing Nexus gear for a while now, Bauer spokesperson Steve Jones said, and the company has owned the trademark to the Nexus name since 2007.

“We’re trying to make sure there isn’t confusion in the marketplace,” Jones said. “We are officially the No. 1 stick in the marketplace, so for us this type of protection is very important from a branding standpoint.”

The issue of trademark infringement arises frequently, Jones said.

“It comes up quite a bit more often than a lot of people think,” Jones said. “When you look at it, there are a lot of hockey companies out there, and not a lot of great names.”