Crawfordsville, Indiana – Plaintiff, Banjo Corporation (formerly known as Terra-Knife and Terra-Products) is suing Fontanet, Indiana company, Green Leaf, Inc. (also known as TerreMax) for Trademark infringement under 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1), unfair competition, use of false designations of origin and false advertising under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a); as well as infringement and unfair competition under Indiana common law.
According to the complaint, Banjo is a leading business in the development and sales of commercial, industrial, and agricultural products, and is most widely known for its valves that regulate the flow of liquids in hoses and pipes. It claims its customers identify these valves by their distinctive yellow handle that is sold on all 150 types of control valves that they sell. Court documents show that Banjo has received a Trademark registration (No. 6,600,065) for the Yellow Handle Design specifically for “liquid handling products for commercial, industrial and agricultural use, namely control valves for regulating the flow of liquids in hoses and pipes.”
The Plaintiff alleges that Green Leaf, who sells similar valves but with green handles, recently hired two Banjo employees, and has launched a new division of its company called, TerreMax, which is not only very close in name to Banjo’s previous company names, Terre Knife and Terre Products, but it has also begun selling a line of control valves that have handles in the exact shade of yellow that Banjo uses for their product. The complaint claims that Green Leaf is acting “in a deliberate effort to encourage false associations with Banjo,” through its name change, handle color, and advertisements which point customers away from Banjo and toward Green Leaf’s nearly identical product.