American Eagle Sues Payless Over Mark

by MR Magazine Staff

NEW YORK – In what could develop into a high-profile Battle of the Birds, American Eagle Outfitters is apparently upset that the Eagle has landed… on the shelves of Payless ShoeSource.

Warrendale, Pa.-based American Eagle Outfitters said Friday that it filed suit in US District Court for the eastern district of New York alleging that Payless’s use of the American Eagle footwear mark is confusing to consumers.

AEO said that Payless acquired the American Eagle footwear mark last year. “For over two decades, AEO and Jimlar, a shoe wholesaler, co-existed without customer confusion,” read a statement from AEO. “Now, however, AEO contends that Payless, a discount shoe chain, is deceiving consumers by portraying itself as the owner of ‘the youth fashion brand American Eagle’ and indicating that it is selling genuine American Eagle Outfitters merchandise when in fact it is not.”

The action seeks to have Payless take steps to eliminate the impression that it is selling genuine AEO merchandise.

Court documents weren’t available and representatives of Topeka, Kansas-based Payless weren’t available for comment over the weekend.

“Our most valuable asset is our brand,” said Neil Bulman Jr., vice president and general counsel of AEO. “We are committed to providing only high-quality, authentic merchandise to our loyal customers. The mounting public confusion that Payless created has compelled us to take this action. As always, we will vigorously protect our brand as a leading lifestyle destination for 15- to 25-year olds.”

The American Eagle logo is available on the home page of Payless’s Web site with a link to a separate American Eagle page. (Click here to view.) Once there, viewers can see men’s and women’s footwear as well as accessories and can enter a sweepstakes and add their names to a mailing list.

American Eagle Outfitters, among the largest youth-oriented specialty chains in the US, operates 907 stores under the AEO nameplate in the US and Canada.

At the end of the fourth quarter, Payless operated 4,572 footwear and accessories stores.