Sure Fit Home Products v. Maytex Mills, 21 Civ. 2169 (LGS) (SDNY <ay 26, 2021)

Plaintiff and defendant make shower curtains. Plaintiff owns utility patents that allow shower curtains to be installed on a rod while the rod is fixed in place. This magic is accomplished by placing holes hear the edge of the curtain, with a horizontal slit between holes. Voila:


Plaintiff also obtained a design patent. Its new, original, and ornamental design looks like this:



Plaintiff also claims trade dress, comprised of:

a shower curtain wherein the curtain lacks any hooks protruding above the upper edge of the curtain, so that Plaintiffs’ shower curtain provides the visual appearance of an essentially “neat” and “orderly” upper edge;

 and wherein the shower curtain has a row of rings along the upper portion of the shower curtain, those rings being attached to the material of the shower curtain such that the bottom surface of each ring (on one or both sides of the shower curtain) is essentially co planar with the material of the shower curtain, also providing an essentially “neat” and “orderly” appearance;
wherein each ring includes a slit or gap in the ring;
and wherein the shower curtain’s rings or pairs of rings, and the associated slits or gaps, are each fixed in place on the shower curtain and provide an organized and symmetrical repeating visual pattern along the top width of the shower curtain.
Plaintiff sells its curtains under the HOOKLESS trademark (registration obtained under 2(f)).
Defendant sells competitive shower curtains. Plaintiff alleges design patent and trade dress infringement, and moves for a preliminary injunction.
As to the design patent, the court noted that defendant’s curtains look like this:
The court then consulted the Egyptian Goddess of Design Patents (543 F.3d 665 (Fed Cir 2008), noted the bevels and hooks on defendant’s rings, and held that plainitff had not shown that it was likely to prevail.
Turning to plaintiff’s unregistered trade dress (which has no presumption of protectability), the court noted the similarity between plaintiff’s utility patent and its description of the trade dress.
Because of the overlap in features between the utility patent and the claim trade dress, the plaintiff failed to meet its burden of establishing non-functionaltiy (and therefore the court does not need to address whether the claimed trade dress had achieved distinctiveness.
Prelim denied (but see footnote 3, which indicates that parallel litigation in the SDNY have turned out differently).
Text of Sure Fit v. Maytex Mills: sdny sure fit functionality