Lawsuit says ‘uncommon’ is too common

By Julie Wernau
Posted Aug. 3, 2010 at 2:52 p.m.

The word “uncommon” has become a little too common for two Web sites — and — who are locked in a legal battle over their namesakes.

Uncommon LLC of Chicago  is asking an Illinois U.S District Judge to get Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Uncommon Goods LLC, off its back once and for all, following several strongly worded letters from the New York Company threatening to sue for trademark infringement.

The Chicago company is arguing that the customers of the two companies don’t overlap, and has offered up evidence that trademark applications for the word “uncommon,” both on its web site and in a certain stylized form were approved for publication by the trademark office a few months ago because no conflicts were found.

Uncommon LLC, which operates, sells high-end customizable cases for cellular phones; whereas, Uncommon Goods LLC sells furniture, accessories and home decor through

The Chicago company said it offered last month to add a disclaimer to to its web site clarifying that it is not affiliated with the New York company, but was sent a letter in reply saying that the disclaimer did “not sufficiently address the concerns.” The company then initiated opposition proceedings with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board seeking to deny Uncommon LLC’s trademark registrations, according to court documents filed this week.

The cell phone accessory retailer said it gets better search result placement than Uncommon Goods LLC , which has used the word Uncommon to promote its products since the 1980s, according to court documents.

“The fact of the matter is we feel that our brand is strong,” said Attorney Nick Lee, who is representing the Chicago company. “I know that we’re new to the market, but the fact that our link is always at the top is not something that’s our doing it’s a result of the market force.”

Lee said that while Uncommon Goods owns has trademarked “Uncommon Goods” and “Uncommon Gifts,” the New York company do not own the rights to the term “uncommon.”

Josh Mintz, buyer for UncommonGoods said that, on the advice of counsel, the company did not wish to comment.

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