A Touch of Class Imports, Ltd. v. Aetna Cas. and Sur. Co – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In A Touch of Class Imports, Ltd. v. Aetna Cas. and Sur. Co. (S.D.N.Y. 1995) 901 F. Supp. 175, the plaintiff was sued by another company named "Touch of Class" for trademark infringement. The plaintiff's insurance policy covered " 'infringement of copyright, title or slogan' " but excluded " 'infringement of trademark, service mark or trade name, other than titles or slogans.' " ( Id. at p. 176.)

In a memorandum opinion, the court found no ambiguity in the policy terms. "The policy states that it will not cover trademark infringement, other than in the context of titles and slogans. Thus, the policy represents that it does cover those instances of trademark infringement that do implicate a product's title and/or slogan. Trademarks can consist of something 'other than a title or slogan,' as the insurance policy suggests. Trademarks can be the color of an item, e.g. pink sugar substitute packets, the location of a patch on a pair of jeans, e.g. on the back hip of one brand of jeans, the scent of an item, e.g. that of a household deodorizing spray, and the design of a package, e.g., the wrapper of a candy bar. None of these trademarks involves the product's title or slogan." (Ibid.)

The court concluded that while it was a close question whether the phrase "Touch of Class" was employed as a "title and/or slogan," there was coverage because the plaintiff had "used that term as an attention-getting device for its jewelry." The court defined "slogan" as "any word or combination of words that acts as an attention-getting device." ( Id. at p. 177.)