v.22 #1 Legal Issues: Cases of Note – Trademark

If It Quacks Like a DUKW …
by Bruce Strauch (The Citadel) strauchb@citadel.edu

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Boston Duck Tours v. Super Duck Tours, United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, 531 F.3d1; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 12771 (2008).

The WWII amphibious vehicle DUKW (pronounced “duck”) spawned a post-war water-borne sightseeing business around the US called “duck tours.” In 1994, Boston Duck Tours began business in — you guessed it — Boston. They used renovated DUKWs painted in rainbow colors and blazoned with the company logo. They were the sole company and were well established in the city.

Then in 2001 along came a competitor. Super Duck opened for business using custommade boats called Hydra-Terras with fancy designs that make them virtually unsinkable. Their ad parodies Superman (“It’s a bus. It’s a boat. It’s a Super Duck!”), and their logo is a cartoon duck with muscular arms and a cape.

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