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  1. #1
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    Default 1993 - When Winston Took Sage & Orvis to Court Over Green.

    I stumbled upon this little bit of history today, an event I hadn't heard of before.

    In 1993 R.L. Winston decided to attempt to trademark ''green fly rods'', claiming the right to exclusive use of the colour as they had been using it on (in!) their graphite rods since 1977. A summary of the case can be read here.

    But Winston weren't concerned about all green fly rods, only what they perceived as ''high end'' competitors and only carbon rods:

    Although Winston's suit might seem facially directed at all green fly-fishing rods, this is not the true thrust of its case. Winston's witness, Mr. Morgan, testified that its claim was not directed at any but "high-end green graphite rods." Upon inquiry, he confirmed this excludes all bamboo rods. Upon further inquiry, Mr. Morgan testified that graphite fly rods, selling at retail prices below $350, are not included in Winston's claim. This means that green graphite fishing rods sold by L.L. Bean and Cabela's at prices below that amount do not fall within the protected class. It also means that green graphite fishing rods produced by Powell, and by Fisher, although recognized by Mr. Green, president of Sage, and also by Orvis as especially fine rods, are not "high-end" as defined by Winston. This apparently narrows the field to two manufacturers other than Winston who also presently offer green graphite fly-fishing rods, i.e., Sage and Orvis.
    Although not totally clear above, I read this as saying that Powell & Fisher rods, despite costing over $350, are not considered by Winston to be ''high end'', but Orvis and Sage recognise them as such. Otherwise, they would have been excluded from the case along with LL Bean & Cabela's on the basis of cost.
    That's a bit of a kick in Powell's groin by Winston, isn't it? Both Powell and Winston were sourcing their IM6 graphite blanks from G. Loomis at this time so the perceived difference could not have been in the material but in the taper design and finish - or maybe they were just being mean.

    The article discusses prior legal precedents regarding trademarking a colour and the reasons one may do so - or may not.
    Something new to me here. I had previously thought Winston (and other) green rods were slate-black blanks painted with a green varnish, but apparently not:

    In contrast to the many shades of color available for fiberglass insulation, the evidence shows that the color palette available for the manufacture of fly rods is extremely limited. One limiting factor is the method by which the color is applied to the rod. The rod is made in part of graphite, which is a carbon and so is naturally black, and the color is applied as a dye, not a paint. Only a few dark shades successfully mask the black base and colors applied to it darken deeply.
    The conclusion of the case was that Winston failed to own 'Green' - as is apparent with today's profusion of verdantly shaded fly rods from 'Hot Lime' to 'Forest Green', perhaps ironically, through 'Sage'.

    For the foregoing reasons,

    IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's request for preliminary injunction is DENIED; and

    IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants' motions to dismiss are DENIED.
    I wonder how much Winston's legal fees were for that farrago?!!?
    Does anyone recall the views in the industry about this at the time or have other memories of it?

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  3. #2

    Default Re: 1993 - When Winston Took Sage & Orvis to Court Over Green.

    I do not have a clear recollection of this legal event though it rings familiar. I will add though that in the 1990's LL Bean did offer a high end rod under its own name that was very good indeed. And why not? It was produced for them with design tweaks by the head of Bean's fishing dept. by G.Loomis using GLX technology. Its color was very much like today's Winston green (Winston's were a slightly darker shade at that time). Sage's SP's were green in the 90's and besides that were the best by far moderate action rods of their day easily eclipsing Winston's fine work. Maybe Winston should have sued them for action infringement. The best paint room in the industry, recently upgraded further with Shimano money? G.Loomis.

  4. #3
    Join Date
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    Default Re: 1993 - When Winston Took Sage & Orvis to Court Over Green.

    sweetandsalt, you refer to 'the paint room' which has me wondering whether I misunderstood above?

    Were Winston's rods dyed green in the pre-baking stage or dyed/painted green after curing?

  5. #4

    Default Re: 1993 - When Winston Took Sage & Orvis to Court Over Green.

    John Deere won a lawsuit over the color of their equipment.

    Deere Wins Trademark Lawsuit in Protection of Green and Yellow Colors

    Harley sued Honda the sound of their motorcycles.

    | Element

    Here are some more color trademarks.

    Colors That Are Trademarked - Business Insider
    Regards,

    Silver



    "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy

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  7. #5
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    Default Re: 1993 - When Winston Took Sage & Orvis to Court Over Green.

    Lewis,
    We dealt with wintson, powell, fisher, sage, orvis etc. at that time and I can honestly say that we spent maybe two minutes on it, then, next.

    Dave

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