American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. has filed a lawsuit against Payless ShoeSource, Inc. to preserve the integrity of its youth-oriented lifestyle AMERICAN EAGLE OUTFITTERS® brand and to prevent consumer confusion arising from Payless' use of the AMERICAN EAGLE footwear mark it purportedly acquired from Jimlar Corporation last year.

American eagle said that for over two decades, AEO and Jimlar, a shoe wholesaler, co-existed without customer confusion. Now, however, AEO contends that Payless, a discount shoe chain, is deceiving consumers by portraying itself as the owner of “the youth fashion brand American Eagle®” and indicating that it is selling genuine AMERICAN EAGLE OUTFITTERS merchandise when in fact it is not.

AEO said in a release that Payless is marketing AMERICAN EAGLE shoes and accessories with advertising and promotional materials that copy the look and feel of AEO's distinctive marketing style and falsely claiming to be the exclusive source of AMERICAN EAGLE and AE “women's,” “men's” and “accessories,” which has resulted in consumer confusion as to the relationship between Payless and AEO. Without relief from the Court, AEO contends, consumers will continue to be confused, and Payless will continue to unfairly benefit from the commercial value of the AEO brand. Through this action, AEO seeks an order requiring Payless to take specific steps to eliminate the misleading impression that it is selling genuine American Eagle Outfitters merchandise.

“Our most valuable asset is our brand. We are committed to providing only high-quality, authentic merchandise to our loyal customers,” said American Eagle Outfitters' Vice President and General Counsel, Neil Bulman, Jr. “The mounting public confusion that Payless created has compelled us to take this action. As always, we will vigorously protect our brand as a leading lifestyle destination for 15-25 year olds.”

The suit was filed in United States District Court Eastern District of New York.