Dunn’s Catalog Too Close for Orvis’s Comfort

Some say that more and more consumer catalogs look alike. But Manchester, VT-based outdoor gear and apparel marketer Orvis is taking exception with one rival that it believes has copied its Sporting Tradition catalog.

Orvis announced in early March that it intends to sue Grand Island, NE-based competitor Dunn’s Supply Catalog for trademark and trade dress infringement. Dunn’s is owned by Sidney, NE-based outdoor sporting goods cataloger/retailer Cabela’s, which bought the title in spring 2002. Orvis president/CEO Perk Perkins says that the fall 2003 Dunn’s catalog copied several Orvis products as well as the photographic styling, the cover imagery, and the overall creative of The Sporting Tradition — not to mention the use of the word “tradition” itself.

“It’s pretty common practice for one company to be inspired by another company’s product or catalog design,” Perkins says. “But this was a wholesale copying of product design imagery. And it’s illegal for a company of Cabela’s stature to be doing something like that, which is really ridiculous.”

Orvis’s lawyer Tom Young in a Feb. 2 letter to Cabela’s demanded that Dunn’s immediately cease producing and distributing the catalog as well as revise its Website. Debra Stanek, a lawyer with the Chicago-based firm Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, replied on behalf of Cabela’s with a letter Feb. 25.

Perkins says that Stanek’s letter stated, “We disagree that Dunn’s catalog in any way infringes on your client’s rights.” There were no assertions that Dunn’s will alter its design, with the exception of one photo. “So we intend to pursue the lawsuit vigorously,” Perkins says.

Reed Gilmore, Cabela’s inhouse corporate counsel, says Cabela’s is trying to resolve the case. But the ball is in Orvis’s court, he adds. “So if they elect to file suit, we’ll deal with that.”

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