Orange County - Xylem Group LLC, a manufacturer of innovative bath and plumbing fixtures, has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against ITT and Xylem Inc., a fluid technology spin-off company of ITT.
The lawsuit contends that by naming the spin-off Xylem Inc., ITT is infringing on the Xylem Group's registered trademark and causing confusion among consumers. Xylem Group LLC has owned the registered trademark XYLEM and has been using it in the plumbing marketplace since 2005.
Xylem Group's founder and president Hal Weinstein insists that the blatant infringement is a David vs. Goliath battle, where a large corporate giant (ITT) is using its size and power in the marketplace to intimidate his much smaller business.
"There is a lot of confusion in the marketplace, which is making it difficult for Xylem Group LLC to get its message out," stated Weinstein. "Who we are, what we are, and what we do is being undermined by ITT," he added. Weinstein also said that Xylem Group LLC has been documenting instances where ITT's trademark infringement has adversely affected its business by causing confusion in the marketplace. He said his small company will aggressively proceed with legal action until ITT stops using its trademarked XYLEM name and will also seek monetary damages.
Adding ammunition to Xylem Group's trademark infringement claims, Weinstein cited a November 2011 office action from the United States Patent and Trademark Office that refuses ITT's registration request for the XYLEM trademark on grounds of likelihood of confusion.
In its response to the lawsuit, ITT insists that its use of the XYLEM trademark does not infringe on Weinstein's trademark since they are used for different product lines. Weinstein, however pointed out that ITT has indeed been involved in the "finished goods" side of the plumbing industry through its past ownership of Grohe AG, an international manufacturer and supplier of sanitary fittings. Weinstein further indicated that ITT has published press releases and filed government documents stating its intention to sell water flow devices like pumps, valves, and fittings under the XYLEM name.
Additionally, Weinstein confirmed that the types of companies that Xylem Group LLC uses to distribute its pumps, valves, pipes, and fittings directly compete with ITT in the plumbing industry.
If Xylem Group LLC has deep enough pockets to weather the litigation storm, it appears that it has a very good case. With evidence of the USPTO office action and documentation of marketplace confusion, Weinstein's company has lots of ammunition.