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Car-Freshner sues book publisher over trademark dispute

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Car-Freshner Corp. has filed a federal trademark infringement lawsuit against a book publisher it claims is marketing a coffee table book that includes an air freshener that is similar to the Watertown company's “Little Trees” design.

Car-Freshner, which has its headquarters in the Jefferson County Corporate Park, filed suit Monday in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, against Insight Editions LP, San Rafael, Calif., a publisher of illustrated books on photography, music and popular culture.

At issue is a new hardcover release titled “The Essential Supernatural: On the Road with Dean and Sam Winchester,” by Nicholas Knight. The book is based on the television show “Supernatural,” in which two brothers explore mysterious beings and events.

Car-Freshner claims each book comes with an air freshener with designs that “closely mimic” its Little Trees, which could lead to confusion among consumers of Car-Freshner products. Car-Freshner maintains that the air fresheners offered with the book are in the shape of a pine tree, yet “do not carry a noticeable fragrance” and, if any fragrance can be detected, the fresheners “do not smell of pine.”

Car-Freshner claims it has notified Insight Editions on multiple occasions of the alleged infringement, but that the California company has continued to distribute the books with the fresheners. Car-Freshner is asking a judge to order Insight Editions to stop making or selling any air fresheners similar to its Little Trees and to destroy all existing fresheners, as well as advertisements, promotional brochures and any other materials that may contain the disputed trademark. The suit also seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

In the past year, Car-Freshner has obtained two $100,000 judgments against companies infringing on its trademark. In June, it obtained judgment against Getty Images, Seattle, for unauthorized use of the Little Trees fresheners' images, and in January it obtained judgment against Air Freshener Inc., Las Vegas, for selling fresheners on its website with pine tree designs.

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