After an oil change shop’s contract to purchase Valvoline products ended, the shop no longer can display the brand’s signs and other trademarked items, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ruled last week. Valvoline Co. v. Magic Quick Lube, 2009 WL 3497805 (E.D. Mich. Oct. 29, 2009). The ruling was based on federal trademark law, which prohibits the use of trademarks without permission in such circumstances.
In enjoining the former dealer, the court found that the trademark use became “unauthorized” when the shop’s contract to buy the products ended. Without a supply contract, the former dealer could not possibly meet Valvoline’s criteria for using its trademarks, which criteria included the meeting of various requirements specified in the contracts themselves. The unauthorized use of the Valvoline signage, in turn, led to a likelihood of confusion and irreparable injury that support the preliminary injunction.
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