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Bose Loses ‘Lifestyle’ Battle against CEDIA; AMX Drops “Lifestyle” Brand

CEDIA finally prevailed against Bose after spending four years and almost $1 million.

After spending four years and more than three-quarters of a million dollars defending its "Electronic Lifestyles" trademark, the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) has prevailed in a trademark infringement action filed by Bose Corp. in 2003.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the United States Patent and Trademark Office has ruled that Bose's accusations of fraud, abandonment and likelihood of confusion had no merit, and that Bose was guilty of laches, that is, the company waited too long to bring claims against CEDIA.

CEDIA began promoting its Electronic Lifestyles products, services and events as early as 1997, and continues to use the brand for its Electronic Lifestyles Awards, Electronic Lifestyles Magazine, and Electronic Lifestyles Expo.

Bose markets a line of speakers under the Lifestyle brand. The Patent and Trademark Office did not invalidate the Bose trademark, but ruled that it was not likely to be confused with CEDIA's Electronic Lifestyles offerings.

The case has sparked intense criticism against Bose for its unsportsmanlike action against its own trade assocation, and against CEDIA for spending nearly $1 million of membership dues that might instead have gone into education or other productive services.

Read the complete ruling on Bose vs. CEDIA.

Other Bose Actions

Since 1996, Bose has been fighting to protect its Lifestyle trademark, filing actions first against Motorola for its Lifestyle communications products.

Most recently, AMX agreed to relinquish its Lifestyles Integrated Living trademark.

Bose has forced several other companies to abandon their Lifestyle brands, including New England Stereo, Holbrook, Mass. (Mobile Lifestyles retail stores); Lifestyle Technologies, Charlotte, N.C., (Lifestyle Technologies home systems integration firm; and Optoma (High Definition Lifestyle HDTVs).

Read the complete roster of Bose's past and current trademark infringement filings for the Lifestyle brand.

CE Pro Flashback - September 2004

Behind the Bose Litigation: Issues and Animosity

If you've visited the CEDIA Web site lately, you probably noticed the running ticker that -- at last check -- neared the $70,000 mark. That's the amount of money the Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association has spent fighting a trademark battle with Bose Corp., manufacturer of the Lifestyle brand of loudspeakers.

Last year, Bose filed a petition with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to cancel CEDIA's four federal trademark registrations for the term Electronic Lifestyles."

Bose, a CEDIA member, argues that it had longstanding prior rights to the Lifestyle mark in connection with music systems, and that CEDIA's use of the term causes confusion in the marketplace.

The lawsuit has driven a giant wedge between CEDIA members and Bose. "This association has been built by the long, tireless efforts of thousands of volunteers and sponsors," says CEDIA president Ray Lepper, "and to have our trademark challenged in this manner by one of our very own members is very disturbing."

CEDIA members have joined in the tirade. "What an outrage!" says Sam Johnson, president of Pro Home Systems, Inc., Grand Junction, Colo. "This is not only a blow to the CEDIA organization as a whole, but an insult to all of the members as well."

For its part, according to a company spokesperson, "Bose has great respect for the members of CEDIA and has tried to amicably resolve this issue with CEDIA."

Bose received its first "Lifestyle" trademark, which applies to loudspeaker systems, in 1990. Since then, the company has vigorously protected the term's use, challenging would-be trademarks that apply to a variety of electronics products and services.

Bose has prevailed in its past challenges, but CEDIA won a partial victory in July when the PTO ruled Bose was too late in filing its petition to cancel CEDIA's first trademark for "Electronic Lifestyles." CEDIA registered that trademark in 1998, but had used the term since 1996. Bose waited more than five years to file its claim -- too long, the PTO ruled.

But the PTO dismissed Bose's claims only in regards to that first trademark, which refers to the use of "Electronic Lifestyles" in CEDIA's printed publications. The other three trademarks, granted in 1999, apply to trade shows, consulting services, and educational services. Bose continues to challenge those three applications.

In related news, Bose has amended its petition, adding a claim that CEDIA abandoned its trademarks. Lepper calls that claim "absurd," adding, "Quite frankly, we believe that Bose saw that it was going to lose its claims based on 'priority' and 'likelihood of confusion,' and it concocted this abandonment claim to keep something alive as to the printed publications registration."

The new claims are likely to drive CEDIA's legal fees even higher. Some association members wonder if it's worth the fight. Even Pro Home's Johnson, for all his bitterness about the Bose action, admits, "The ever increasing amount being spent fighting this battle is unnecessary. There comes a point in time when we should just walk away."

Other integrators, commenting off the record and on the CEDIA bulletin board, expressed concern about the escalating legal fees, suggesting ways that CEDIA can better use the funds to serve its members.

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About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]


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