Orange County Trademark Attorney® Blog

Hells Angels Accuse Toys "R" Us, Yo-Yo Maker Of Stealing Death Head Trademark

October 15, 2012

motorcycle.jpg Orange County - Hells Angels Motorcycle Corp., the official business arm of the notorious motorcycle club, attacked Toys "R" Us Inc. and yo-yo maker Yomega Corp. in California federal court on Wednesday for allegedly infringing the trademark for the club's "death head" logo by making and selling a series of yo-yos bearing the image.

HAMC, a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation, is the owner of the Hells Angels trademarks, which it administers for the benefit of the club, according to its complaint in the Eastern District of California. The Hells Angels have used their design trademark depicting a skull with wings in connection with the motorcycle club for over 50 years, the club says.

Over the course of that half-century of "continuous and conspicuous" usage, the death head trademark has become famous and widely recognized by the public as an indicator of affiliation with the Hells Angels, HAMC says.

"From decades of notoriety, the HAMC death head mark has acquired very widespread public recognition; consequently it evokes strong and immediate reactions whenever used," the complaint says. "The impact of this mark is dramatic, and as a result it has great commercial value. Defendants seek to exploit that value for their own gain."

Yomega allegedly designed, made and sold a line of yo-yos featuring a design that is confusingly similar to the death head trademark. The company and Toys "R" Us both allegedly reaped substantial profits from their infringement and exploitation of the Hells Angels trademark, the club says.

HAMC sent Yomega a letter in June notifying it of the potential infringement claims and demanding that the company cease using the logo and provide a full accounting of its profits from the yo-yos. Yomega responded to the letter but has refused to recall the infringing yo-yos or provide an accounting, according to the Hells Angels.

The club also sent a similar letter to Toys "R" Us' corporate headquarters in September, and visited the retailer's Roseville, Calif. store in October to personally deliver the notice and demand to the store's manager, but the infringing items remain on display and available for sale, the complaint says.

HAMC is asserting claims for trademark infringement and dilution, as well as unfair competition under the Lanham Act. The club is seeking an injunction barring the companies from using the trademark and a recall of all remaining inventory of the yo-yos in question so that they may be destroyed under third-party supervision, in addition to damages, costs and attorneys' fees.