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Suit Accuses L.L. Bean Supplier of Christmas Tree Infringement

Posted Dec 1, 2010 7:29 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A hot-selling tabletop Christmas tree for sale by L.L. Bean is at the center of a legal dispute between two competitors.

According to a lawsuit, the tree by Whitney Originals Inc. infringes the patented design of a tree made by Worcester Wreath, which had been L.L. Bean’s supplier before last year. The New York Times has the story.

Both trees have fake holly berries and a red bow, but Worcester’s tree also has pine cones. Whitney’s lawyer, James Haddow, told the Times that the company “has taken specific steps to make sure its decorations are distinct.”

It’s not the first legal disagreement between the two companies. “The relationship between Worcester Wreath and Whitney Originals is as prickly as, well, pine needles,” the story says. A judge upheld Worcester’s patent when Whitney challenged its validity. Whitney then got a license to make its own version of the patented tree, as long as it was not exactly the same. And a second suit over Whitney’s new warehouse, built after it got the L.L. Bean contract, resulted in a settlement.

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