October 14 2005.
Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. and Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. filed suit on Wednesday in Los Angeles Federal Court against Yamoto Motor Corporation and Patriot Motorcycles Corporation  for trademark infringement, trademark dilution, false designation of origin, false advertising, copyright infringement and unfair competition. Yamaha is the original designer, manufacturer and seller of the Raptor(TM) line of ATVs and TT-R125 off-road motorcycles and seeks a permanent injunction against the Defendants, alleging that they are flooding the marketplace with inferior, copycat products. Yamaha seeks both treble and punitive damages in its Complaint and will ask the Court to compel Defendants to deliver to Yamaha for destruction all products, containers, packages, labels and advertising materials that infringe Yamaha's trademarks. Yamaha is represented by Robert C. Weiss and Michael A. Tomasulo with the Los Angeles office of Jones Day. Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., et al. v. Yamoto Motor Corporation, et al., Case No. CV05-7351 RSWL (JTLx).
Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. was founded in 1955, is the second largest manufacturer of motorcycles and ATVs in the world and enjoys an international reputation for selling unique, high-quality products. Based in Cypress, CA, its wholly-owned subsidiary, Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., distributes motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, golf carts, outboard engines and water vehicles all under the Yamaha(R) brand name. Yamaha owns and holds trademark rights in connection with the shape, style and overall appearance of Yamaha's Raptor(TM) line of ATVs and its TT-R125 line of off-road motorcycles. Many of Yamaha's ATVs are manufactured at its plant in Newnan, Georgia.
Yamaha alleges in its Complaint that Yamoto entered the United States market in 2003 by advertising, promoting and offering for sale the Yamoto line of ATVs and off-road motorcycles, which are of lower quality but bear strikingly similar resemblances to Yamaha's Raptor(TM) line of ATVs and its TT-R125 line of off-road motorcycles. Yamaha states in its Complaint, for example, that the Yamaha(R) Raptor(TM) 50 ATV and the Yamoto 70 ATV are so similar that the poorer quality parts on the Yamoto copy are interchangeable with the parts on the Yamaha(R). Yamaha further alleges that Yamoto not only attempted to confuse the public through the adoption of names, logos, colors and appearances that are confusingly similar to Yamaha's, but also by copying Yamaha's website, using a web address almost identical to Yamaha's web address and failing to disclose the Chinese origin of the Yamoto products in violation of United States law. Yamaha claims that the distribution of these products is an obvious and deliberate attempt to trade off of Yamaha's reputation and goodwill in the industry.
"For over 50 years, Yamaha has invested serious money into researching, developing and promoting its brand of motorcycles and ATVs and can rightfully claim pride in its reputation for quality and innovation," stated Russell D. Jura, General Counsel for Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. "Consumers have come to associate the Yamaha brand with superior, reliable products. Yet, the Defendants are trying to undermine and sabotage our hard-earned reputation by deliberately copying our products, from body design and shape to customized logos, in an attempt to confuse the public and sell them inferior products."
"Yamaha, not Yamoto, holds the appropriate trademark registrations for all of its products," explained Jura. "Our distributors, wholesalers, retailers and customers know that they can always expect quality from us. Yamoto's imitation of our products has been fraudulent and deceptive from day one, and this is simply unacceptable to us, and that's why we will assert our legal rights against anyone knocking off what is rightfully ours."