When companies work together for years or even decades, a variety of issues can arise out of the agreements made and deals struck. When one company or business decides to part ways by ending the relationship, the resulting split has the potential to turn into a legal nightmare for both parties. In one such recent business divorce, the resulting lawsuit involves a myriad of commercial litigation issues.
The Battle of the Monster Trucks
A recent case between the company that owns MONSTER JAM® and toy manufacturer Mattel undoes a 20-year partnership between the two companies. In July 2018, Feld Motor Sports – the parent company of MONSTER JAM® – alerted Mattel it planned to end their long-standing relationship. While the details of the decision to dissolve the partnership are unknown, Feld Motor Sports had licensed the Monster Jam name and logo to Mattel since 1999, with Mattel serving as the sole producer of official MONSTER JAM® toy trucks and other merchandise.
In a lawsuit filed late December 2018 (Feld Motor Sports, Inc. v. Mattel, Inc.), Feld claims Mattel infringed on its trademark by producing its own line of toy monster trucks with remarkably similar styles, names, and colors, alleging they are “virtually identical in shape and construction.” The lawsuit even claims Mattel repurposed the molds it created and used for decades manufacturing the MONSTER JAM® trucks in a gross violation of trademark laws. Additionally, Mattel announced in November it planned to hold its own event, titled “Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live,” which is a near perfect copy of Feld Motor Sports’ MONSTER JAM® event.
In addition to trademark infringement, Feld alleges Mattel chose not to complete the remainder of the licensing agreement in good faith by failing to supply retailers with their requested supplies of MONSTER JAM® products, resulting in a significant decline in sales for Feld Motor Sports in the third quarter of 2018 versus the same quarter in 2017. Feld claims Mattel “secretly and deliberately undersupplied MONSTER JAM® products” while still remaining the exclusive licensee, and therefore unlawfully blocked market access to the products.
Because of the long history between the two companies, litigation over these issues is sure to prove contentious, with claims ranging from trademark infringement to licensing issues to breach of contract. The issues involved can affect a wide-range of businesses, and the case merits close attention as it continues to unfold.
Commercial Litigation Attorneys in Houston
The commercial litigation lawyers at Feldman & Feldman have successfully litigated business disputes for over 40 years, and one of our founding partners, Cris Feldman, has significant experience in commercial litigation. If your business is facing issues with a partner or vendor, find out how we can help resolve those issues either in or out of the courtroom. Contact us today for a consultation.