Petaluma-based ukulele maker claims North Carolina firm infringed on its trademark

By Gabriel Neves | Sep 20, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – Kala Brand Music Co., a Petaluma-based music instrument maker, recently filed a federal lawsuit claiming a North Carolina firm violated the copyright regarding a Kala ukulele.

In the lawsuit Kala Brand filed against Donner Technology LLC on Sept. 10 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Kala said it "created its U-BASS ukulele in June 2009 and immediately began using the distinctive U-BASS trademark in interstate commerce in connection with its musical instruments." The instrument mark "has been registered since July 6, 2010, and has been in consistent, uninterrupted use in interstate commerce since at least June of 2009 in connection with ukuleles."

The complaint said that "in or about October of 2017, plaintiff discovered that Donner and defendants were producing and selling a ukulele under the trademark UBASS," which were "being offered and sold through not only the Donner website, but also through various third-party vendors, such as Amazon and eBay."

On Jan. 3, 2018, per the complaint, Kala's attorney "sent a demand letter to defendants alerting them to the likelihood of confusion between the defendants’ UBASS mark and Plaintiff’s federally registered U-BASS mark, and demanding ... that defendants immediately cease using the UBASS mark." Kala received a response over a month later, which both parties did not reach a settlement.

Several attempts to resolve the issue in an amicable manner have been made, but Donner "failed and refused, and continue to fail and refuse, to cease use of the UBASS trademark or to comply with Plaintiff’s requests," the complaint said.

Kala is seeking liability for copyright and trademark infringements, in addition to ceasing the sales of the UBASS ukulele, as well as damages to be determined by the court, a jury trial, and other provisions.

Kala is represented by attorney Elizabeth Rest of Owen Seitel of San Francisco.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California case no. 3:18-cv-05545-RS

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