Salt Life manufacturer sues Myrtle Beach-area beachwear store owners over trademark

To The Game LLC – the Phenix City, Ala.-based company that owns the popular Salt Life brand of T-shirts, vehicle decals and other ocean-themed merchandise – is suing a pair of Myrtle Beach area beachwear store owners for alleged trademark violations.

To The Game says in court documents that E&T Inc. of North Myrtle Beach is copying trademarked designs on T-shirts and other merchandise sold in its stores, which operate in several states as Tropical Waves, Alvin’s Island and Beach Unlimited, among other names.

The Alabama company also says Myrtle Beach-based Adi Imports is using signage for its Beach Life stores that could confuse consumers about whether the stores are officially affiliated with Salt Life merchandise.

To The Game is alleging trademark and service mark violations and wants both businesses to stop using names and designs that copy Salt Life’s merchandise. The company also is asking for unspecified actual and punitive financial damages and attorney’s fees. Complaints have been filed in federal court in both cases but no court dates have been set. Neither Adi Imports nor E&T Inc. have filed an answer to the lawsuits.

Heidi Hood, a Greenville lawyer representing To The Game, did not respond to requests for comments. Rafi Adi, owner of Adi Imports, declined to comment when contacted Friday. E&T owner Eliezer Tabib could not be reached for comment.

To The Game cited three instances in which it says E&T copied its T-shirt designs, which include the words “Salt” and “Life” separated by a hibiscus flower, a marlin or a palm tree. Court documents state E&T sold T-shirts in its stores with a similar design and the words “Resort” and “Life” separated by a hibiscus flower, a marlin or a palm tree.

The Alabama company said in court documents that Adi Imports’ Beach Life store name is displayed in a font that is too similar to the Salt Life design.

To The Game is a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Apparel Inc. and it acquired the Salt Life brand in 2013.

In addition to Salt Life, the company markets hats and T-shirts featuring a design with two or three parallel lines – what it calls its two-bar and three-bar trademarks. To The Game filed a lawsuit in January against Seattle-based Sportswear Inc. because that company makes baseball caps with sports teams’ names and hometowns separated by parallel lines. Sportswear Inc. said in court documents that the lawsuit was filed after it petitioned the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to cancel To The Games’ trademarks. Sportswear Inc. says the parallel lines are neither famous nor distinct and cannot be trademarked. That lawsuit is pending.

The Salt Life brand – created in 2003 by four Jacksonville, Fla. ocean enthusiasts – has been popular in the Myrtle Beach area and elsewhere, with more than $20 million in annual sales of vehicle decals, caps, jewelry, clothing, luggage tags, beach bags, dog collars and other merchandise.