A lawsuit against a southern Maine clothing retailer over the use of a cartoon whale, an alleged trademark infringement, has been withdrawn. 

Vineyard Vines, a national clothing and accessories retailer, dropped its case against Arundel-based T-shirt company Mountain Tops Inc., on Thursday. 

Vineyard Vines logo

The company filed a suit this month against Mountain Tops and Mountain Tops’ supplier, Minnesota-based wholesaler Lakeshirts Inc., or Blue 84, for allegedly knowingly and intentionally mimicking the Vineyard Vines’ trademarked smiling whale design.

A cartoon whale with similarities to the Vineyard Vines whale appeared on some infant and toddler clothes sold at Mountain Tops’ Kennebunk and Ogunquit stores this summer. Owner Chuck Frazier said previously that he removed the clothing from the stores as soon as the issue was brought to his attention in July. 

The suit against Lakeshirts has not been dismissed, according to court documents, and it’s unclear if Lakeshirts has removed the design in question from its offerings. A representative for Lakeshirts declined to comment due to ongoing litigation. 

Frazier said this week that he felt his company was caught in the crossfire of a dispute between two large companies. 


Now, with the suit against his company dismissed, he’s breathing a sigh of relief. 

“I was notified of the dismissal yesterday by email from Vineyard Vines’ North Carolina attorney,” Frazier said in an email Friday. “The email did not explain why the suit was filed against us in the first place, nor why it was being withdrawn now. We are glad to put it behind us, however.” 

Vineyard Vines’ Maine attorney, Clifford Ruprecht, declined a request for an interview. 

Vineyard Vines, which has more than 50 locations across the country, including one in Freeport, trademarked its smiling whale in 2005.

According to the lawsuit, the brand is “well known for its colorful, nautical and whimsical designs on its clothing products” and most notably, for its whale, which has become “an iconic symbol representing the Vineyard Vines clothing brand.” 

The logo on T-shirts sold in Maine

There are some differences between the Vineyard Vines logo and the one manufactured by Lakeshirts/Blue 84. The alleged copycat whale has water squirting out of its blowhole, for example, and the eye, smile and overall shape of the whale are slightly different.

While the two designs in question are not identical, according to the lawsuit, the “striking and otherwise unnecessary similarities,” between the two whales, both of which feature “a smiling whimsical left-facing anthropomorphic whale with an eye above its smile and an upwardly lifted tail fin,” are enough to cause confusion for buyers and harm to the company.

The alleged “mimicry” causes “irreparable harm” in several ways, the company said in the suit: It deprives Vineyard Vines of its right to determine how its image is presented, deceives and confuses the public as to the origin and sponsorship of the clothing goods, “wrongfully preys upon and cashes in on” the reputation and commercial value of Vineyard Vines, and “irreparably harms and injures, or threatens to harm and injure” the reputation of Vineyard Vines for providing quality clothing.

In its suit against Lakeshirts, Vineyard Vines is seeking action for trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition, and “several related federal, state and common law causes of action,” according to the suit filed Aug. 3. 

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