lawsuits | Mar 16, 2023 |
Coco & Dash claims partial victory in the battle for blue checks

Last year, the story of Swedish luxury bedding maker Hästens locking horns with a small Texas design shop over a sofa became a cause célèbre in the design industry. Now, the saga of the world’s most controversial blue-checked upholstery has come to a close—at least, for the time being.

First, a little backstory. In 2021, Dallas store Coco & Dash received a threatening letter from the Swedish brand. The note asserted that Teddie and Courtney Garrigan, the mother-daughter team behind the shop, had violated Hästens’s intellectual property by selling a sofa clad in blue-checked fabric. If they didn’t immediately pull the item from their inventory, a lawsuit and damages up to $2 million could follow.

After doing a little digging, the Garrigans were surprised to discover that Hästens had in fact managed to secure several trademarks on the classic blue-checked pattern, and had threatened other small companies with similar action. It’s a practice the Garrigans—and several legal experts—referred to as “trademark bullying,” or the strategy of securing dubious intellectual property and using a well-funded legal team to shake down small competitors.

But instead of quietly pulling the sofa from their store, the Garrigans took the issue to court, proactively suing Hästens to nullify the trademark. In response, Hästens countersued—with a twist. The brand opted to drag Chairish into the mix with a California lawsuit claiming that because Coco & Dash sold through the platform, both companies were implicated. Throughout 2022, a complex and expensive legal battle ensued (Teddie Garrigan says Coco & Dash spent $75,000 on legal fees; Hästens declined to comment for this story).

Late last year, the duel ended in something like a draw. The Garrigans’ lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice (meaning it could in theory be tried again) on the grounds that the federal court in Dallas didn’t have jurisdiction over the matter. At the same time, Hästens’s suit in California was also thrown out by a judge who chastised the Swedish brand for attempting to “drag a modest Texas-based operation to court in a state where it has directed no efforts to market, sell or distribute the allegedly infringing item.”

Hästens walks away from the tussle with their trademark intact. Meanwhile, Coco & Dash is free to continue selling blue checks in their shop.

Though taking their case to trial would have been an expensive ordeal, Teddie Garrigan tells Business of Home that she’s disappointed that the issue didn’t get its day in court, and that Hästens can still use its blue-checked trademark as a cudgel to bully other small businesses. “I’m glad about the money part, but I’m disappointed we didn’t get to trial,” she says. “We’ve heard from other companies that have gotten these letters from Hästens. It’s an oversight that the trademarks were allowed to go through the system. Someone was asleep at the wheel.” Garrigan says she’s committed to pursuing the issue further and investigating a road map for legally nullifying Hästens’s blue-checked trademarks.

Meanwhile, according to The Dallas Morning News, Hästens is planning to open a store in Dallas. The proposed location, Teddie Garrigan points out, is near a Serena & Lily outpost—itself a significant purveyor of blue-checked home goods.

And as for the sofa that started it all? It was sold to a longtime Coco & Dash customer who happens to be, fittingly, an attorney. “She said she wanted a piece of the story,” says Teddie Garrigan. “But honestly, it’s just a gorgeous sofa.”

Homepage photo: Courtesy of Coco & Dash

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