7th Circuit: Raised quilting pattern on toilet paper functional; trademark protection denied

In an entertaining opinion peppered with puns, the 7th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Georgia-Pacific's claims that the raised quilting patterns on Kimberly-Clark's Cottonette brand of toilet paper infringed Georgia-Pacific's alleged trademark rights in the raised quilting pattern of its Quilted Northern brand. The appeals court agreed with the district court that Georgia-Pacific utility patents and advertising touted the utilitarian benefits of the raised quilting pattern. The court was unpersuaded that the existence of design patents on the quilting pattern undercut what it viewed as clear statements in G-P's utility patents about the utilitarian benefits of the quilting. The case is Georgia-Pacific Consumer Prods. LP v. Kimberly-Clark Corp., No. 10-3519 (7th Cir. July 28, 2011).

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