The New York Times lists the most litigious U.S. companies of the decade. Microsoft is king, followed by Cendant, Altria/Phillip Morris, Best Western, Dunkin’ Donuts, Lorillard Tobacco, Levi Strauss, Baskin-Robbins, Chanel and Nike.
The story looks closely at one of the most iconic brands in American history–Levi Strauss–and the trouble the privately-held San Francisco company has maintaining the integrity of its classic butterfly mark.
United States Patent and Trademark No. 1,139,254 is not much to look at: a pentagon surrounding a childlike drawing of a seagull in flight.
But the design for a Levi’s pocket, first used 133 years ago, has become the biggest legal battleground in American fashion.
Levi Strauss claims that legions of competitors have stolen its signature denim stitches — two intersecting arcs and a cloth label — for their own pockets, slapping them on the seats of high-priced, hip-hugging jeans that have soared in popularity.
So Levi’s is becoming a leader in a new arena: lawsuits. The company has emerged as the most litigious in the apparel industry when it comes to trademark infringement lawsuits, firing off nearly 100 against its competitors since 2001.