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Nautica taking Bellingham business to court over trademark for second time

Christine Palmerton, creator of the Bellingham-based Nauti Girl brand is being taken to court again after clothing giant Nautica said it's trademark is too similar to theirs. (Photo: KOMO News)

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - A Bellingham business is being taken to court again after clothing giant Nautica said it's trademark is too similar to theirs.

"We have it with hot pink in the background," said Christine Palmerton, the creator if Nauti Girl clothing.

She already won a trademark war in 2015 against Nautica, but she's not sure she can withstand another battle.

"Got a letter out of the blue from Nautica saying to cease and desist, turn over my inventory," said Palmerton.

She came up with the idea more than a decade ago, and got a trademark in 2009. But, since then she's spent nearly half her time defending her brand in court.

"A lot of people other there refer to it as trademark bullying," she said.

Palmerton said Nautica has taken action against other small brands like hers as well. She said she wouldn't have been able to fight it - with such massive legal fees - had it not been for a group of law students who to it on pro bono.

"Me going out of business isn’t going to make their sales soar and no one has ever confused us with Nautica," said Palmerton.

But, since her initial victory, she said Nautica filed for and received a trademark for Nautica Girl - and now it's trying to fight her clothing line that way.

"And I kind of lost myself a little bit because, for four years, how much of this do I put in? Because I might lose it," said Palmerton.

"We've never had anyone confuse it with Nautica in the past eight years," said Tina Schwindt, owner of Bay to Baker in Fairhaven, which sells the Nauti Girl brand.

Schwindt said it's a great seller, but doesn't understand what the fight is over.

"I don’t like to see anyone bullied, whether it’s a middle school child or a business. It’s just not right," said Schwindt.

Palmerton said the student group can't fight this case, and now sees her only option as trying to crowndfund $100,000 to defend her brand again.

"I started picking up again, and then to have this happen is just like, it’s heart-wrenching," said Palmerton.

KOMO News tried reaching out to Nautica's parent company on Friday for comment, but they did not immediately respond.

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