Skunkworks wins trade name battle

By Lilia Guan on May 27, 2008 6:00 AM
Filed under Hardware

The Australian manufacturer of flat screen mounting products has won a trademark fight against Lockheed Martin to use their “Skunkworks” name.

IP Australia, the government division that manages trademark applications, has rejected Lockheed Martin’s objection to the local IT company using a Skunkworks trademark. The Perth company is the first to win the right to use the name and can now act on expansion plans.

Lockheed Martin, the world’s number one military contractor that produced the Stealth Bomber, started action against Skunkworks three years ago. The series of legal threats resulted in a drawn-out battle through IP Australia.

Skunkworks spokesman, Lou Schillaci, said Lockheed Martin is well known for its aggressive action against a multitude of companies worldwide that use the Skunkworks name in their brands or URLs.

“To date only three companies (including Skunkworks’ sister operation in the UK) have successfully won the right to use “Skunkworks” in their URLs. As far as it can be determined the Perth company is the first in history to have been successfully awarded a trademark,” said Schillaci.

“It is generally considered that the “Skunkworks” name has long since lost its association with any one entity,” said Schillaci. “This is clearly a ‘David and Goliath’ type victory. It means we can now take positive steps forward and action our plans for expansion that will take us into new markets, particularly the US.”

According to Schillaci, at the centre of the argument was Lockheed Martin’s concern that there would be “confusion” over the use of the “Skunk Works” name.

It was suggested that customers purchasing from Skunkworks’ Australian operation would connect its flat screen mounting products with Lockheed Martin’s core business of aeronautical and military products.

“It cited various claims of ‘abusive use of the “Skunk Works” name’ which it originally used in the 1950s in relation to its under-cover cold war technology division,” said Schillaci.

Despite its long association with the “Skunk Works” mark, it appears Lockheed Martin does not use it in association with any of its actual products or services.

 
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