Beneath the thousands of twinkling Christmas lights on display at the Oklahoma City retailer North Pole City, a turf war is brewing with greeting card giant Hallmark Cards.
The Oklahoma City seasonal store, which sells Christmas ornaments and holiday collectibles, filed a federal trademark infringement lawsuit on Monday against Hallmark over the use of the name North Pole City.
The retailer filed the lawsuit after it learned of Hallmark's plans to use the North Pole City name on its merchandise, store owner David Green said in a statement released through his attorney Tuesday.
“Hallmark has been well aware that North Pole City has utilized the ‘North Pole City' phrase or name for some time,” Green said. “We are still hopeful that we can resolve this dispute informally with Hallmark.”
In its lawsuit, the retailer claims that Kansas City-based Hallmark is planning to roll out a new line of holiday products branded with the name North Pole City — all without the Oklahoma City business's permission.
“Without North Pole City's permission, defendants have indicated their intent to launch products and franchise development for Holiday 2014 around a fictional city called North Pole City,” the Oklahoma City Christmas retailer claims in its lawsuit.
Hallmark also has sought trademarks for the name “North Pole City,” the lawsuit claims.
Records show that Hallmark applied with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in June to register the trademark North Pole City.
Hallmark has plans to use the North Pole City name on a “series of fictional books, stationery, greeting cards, gift wrapping paper,” as well as “cookie decoration devices, serving plates and cheese spreaders, according its application filed with the Patent and Trademark Office.
The company also plans to use the North Pole City theme for everything from children's books to holiday socks, and has even applied for the rights to use the name to produce motion pictures and cable television programs, according to trademark applications.
Founded by Green, the North Pole City store has sold decorations and Christmas themed items from its 26,000 square-foot building off Interstate 44 since the early 1990s. The store's candy-striped pole sign with Santa climbing up the side is an Oklahoma City landmark.
Green registered the North Pole City name with the Oklahoma secretary of state in 1997 and the business has operated the website northpolecity.com since 1995. (North Pole City's David Green is no relation to the David Green who founded and leads Oklahoma City-based retailer Hobby Lobby)
In its lawsuit, the Oklahoma City store is asking a federal judge to order Hallmark to stop using the name. It also wants Hallmark to compensate it for any lost profits and for Hallmark to hand over any product it has already manufactured bearing the North Pole City name.
Julie O'Dell, a spokeswoman for Hallmark, said the company's legal department had yet to see a copy of the lawsuit. She declined to comment further until the company has had a chance to review the complaint.
Hallmark has been well aware that North Pole City has utilized the ‘North Pole City' phrase or name for some time. We are still hopeful that we can resolve this dispute informally with Hallmark.”
North Pole City owner