A Kenner, La. athletic equipment company is asking a federal judge to declare that it has not been infringing on the trademark of California-based L.A. Gear.

Athletic Training Innovations filed a lawsuit against L.A. Gear on May 20 in federal court in New Orleans.

The plaintiff claims that it sells a specialty training shoe under the name "Katapult." The shoe is marketed for exclusive use with a customized training program to enhance strength, speed, agility, and balance. In contrast, L.A. Gear sells a conventional high-end basketball or fashion athletic shoes under the registered trademark "Catapult," the suit claims.

The suit claims that L.A. Gear does not own exclusive rights to the trademark Catapult because the mark is no longer used in commerce.

"Regardless of whether the trademark Catapult remains in use, Plaintiff's use of its trademark Katapult is not likely to cause confusion because the pertinent goods are dissimilar, the dissimilar goods are distributed through different trade channels and the respective customers are sophisticated so as to minimize or eliminate any likelihood of confusion," the lawsuit argues.

Athletic Training Innovations claims it received a notice on May 5 from L.A. Gear that its footwear that bears the Katapult trademark is identical in "pronunciation and confusingly similar" to L. A. Gear's registered trademark Catapult. The letter also states that Athletic Training Innovation's sale of products bearing the infringing trademark will allow L.A. Gear to obtain an injunction to stop the continued sale and advertising of the footwear and to obtain damages resulting from the infringement claims.

L.A. Gear demanded that Athletic Training Innovations cease and desist all sales of products bearing the Katapult trademark. Similar letters were sent to two of Athletic Training Innovation's customers, GSI Commerce and Sports Authority.

The suit seeks a judgment stating that it has not infringed on any trademark rights of L.A. Gear and that it is not engaging in unfair trade practices or unfair competition. The company is also asking the court to order that the defendant's trademark registrations be canceled and for an award of damages, treble damages, attorney fees, costs, expenses and interest.

Attorney Kenneth L. Tolar of Metairie and J. Douglas Sunseri of Nicaud & Sunseri of Metairie are representing Athletic Training Innovations.

U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv1524

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