United States Court of Appeals Affirms Judgment Rejecting Tenneco’s Claim of Trademark Rights in Its Part Numbers

Share Article

The Court of Appeals Opinion affirmed a May 20, 2009 judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan rejecting a number of theories Tenneco had advanced under intellectual property law to block Kingdom Auto Parts’ sale of its “StrutTEK” strut assemblies that compete with Tenneco’s “Quick-Strut” assemblies.

On October 28, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed that Tenneco Automotive Operating Company, Inc. (“Tenneco”) failed to show that the 5-digit and 6-digit part numbers it uses with its struts and strut assemblies are protectable as trademarks. The Court of Appeals Opinion affirmed a May 20, 2009 judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan rejecting a number of theories Tenneco had advanced under intellectual property law to block Kingdom Auto Parts’ sale of its “StrutTEK” strut assemblies that compete with Tenneco’s “Quick-Strut” assemblies. (Case Nos: 08-2276, 09-1920)

Important to the automotive aftermarket was the Court’s refusal to accept Tenneco’s claim that it possessed trademark rights in its 5-digit (struts) part numbers and 6-digit (strut assemblies) part numbers. Tenneco claimed use of these part numbers by Kingdom Auto Parts and Prime Choice in cross-referencing their “StrutTEK” products to Tenneco’s “Quick-Strut” products was an unlawful competitive practice. The trial court determined that Tenneco had failed to prove its part numbers had acquired “secondary meaning,” making them protectable as trademarks. The trial court’s judgment was affirmed by the appellate court.

Also significant was the appellate court’s affirmance that public policy favors copying of items not protected by an intellectual property right. Tenneco’s “Quick-Strut” assemblies are copies of the OEM strut assemblies which they are intended to replace, and therefore embody no intellectual property rights of Tenneco. The appellate court found Kingdom Auto Parts and Prime Choice safely within its rights to copy the Tenneco strut assemblies, and rejected all Tenneco claims based on any allegation of such copying.

Kingdom Auto Parts of Stittsville, Ontario (kingdomautoparts.com) has been in business for 29 years, and has built a solid reputation in the automotive industry for:

  • Being a premium wholesale auto parts supplier with cost effective pricing
  • Fast delivery turn-around times
  • Providing excellent customer service
  • State-of-the-art warehousing & progressive supply chain management
  • Providing part number cross referencing for most manufacturers

Any inquiries regarding this matter should be directed to Gary Calagoure, President of Kingdom Auto Parts, 613-836-7631, ext. 228.

###

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Gary Calagoure
Kingdom Auto Parts
613-836-7631 ext. 228
Email >
Visit website