Settlement reached in Imported from Detroit lawsuit

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Artist's rendition of the Chrysler logo.

Is Chrysler's slogan “Imported from Detroit” accurate? (Photo Credit: Public Domain/Vascer/Wikipedia)

A settlement was reached Wednesday in the long-running lawsuit between Chrysler Group LLC and apparel-maker Pure Detroit over the clothing company’s use of the Chrysler slogan “Imported from Detroit” on one of its T-shirts. Details of the settlement have not been released, but it is known that Pure Detroit is continuing to sell the T-shirts. Whether royalties or residuals have exchanged hands is unclear, notes The Detroit News.

The battle over ‘Imported from Detroit’

Mike Palese, a spokesman for Chrysler Group LLC, would not comment to the automotive press regarding the terms of the settlement, although he did note that the legal battle “has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.”

Last month, Chrysler and Pure Detroit attended a settlement conference that was moderated by a professional mediator. The conference is known to have involved discussion of the use of the “Imported from Detroit” slogan, which appeared in a television ad during the Super Bowl and featured Eminem.

Pure Detroit lawyer John VanOphem would not comment on the terms outlined in the agreement between his client and Chrysler Group LLC. He did tell The Detroit News that terms regarding the slogan and financial considerations have been reached which are “mutually satisfactory.”

Shots fired

Sources indicate that Pure Detroit took issue with Chrysler’s copyright claim in February, indicating the belief that “Imported from Detroit” was false advertising because many Chrysler vehicles are built in Canada and other nations. The television commercial refers to the Chrysler 200, Chrysler 300 and the Town & Country, none of which are built in Detroit, Pure Detroit claims. The first vehicle is assembled in Sterling Heights, Mich., while the other two are built in Ontario, Canada.

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Almost a sticky wicket

A major point of contention over Pure Detroit’s use of “Imported from Detroit” stemmed from the fact that Chrysler Group LLC sells clothing and other collectible products via the company’s website. Some of these items bear the “Imported from Detroit” logo, and proceeds go to a variety of Detroit-area charitable organizations.

Despite this, U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow issued a ruling in June in which he denied a preliminary injunction against Pure Detroit and its T-shirt sales.

Taxpayer angst

Chrysler Group LLC was one of the primary recipients of taxpayer dollars during the automotive bailouts. Considering that the “Imported from Detroit” television commercial cost an estimated $9 million for the one-off spot during the Super Bowl, it may be understandable that U.S. consumers may not have been thrilled with Chrysler’s money management decision. Adam Weinstein of Mother Jones went so far as to call Chrysler’s action “deplorable,” notes Smart Planet. Weinstein went on to say,

“There’s a lot to dislike here: the fact that a major bailout recipient is dishing beaucoup bucks for a one-off ad to boost its image; the cynical racism (or at least colonialism) of positioning Chrysler as a tough, gritty, 8 Mile-style brand that’s perfect for what marketers call the ‘urban core’ demographic; and using Detroit poverty porn to hawk your product while simultaneously trying to deride the media’s recent Detroit poverty porn.”

Perhaps Pure Detroit was brave to call Chrysler out for hypocrisy.

The Chrysler Eminem Super Bowl commercial


The Detroit News


The Republic:

Smart Planet

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