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Contentious lawsuit over 'Red Wing Pottery' name is settled

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A contentious lawsuit between a pottery company and a local museum in Red Wing was finally resolved this past week.

Bruce and Irene Johnson, owners of Red Wing Pottery and Red Wing Stoneware Co., filed a trademark infringement lawsuit over the use of their red wing insignia by the Red Wing Collectors Society Foundation, which operates a pottery museum in the city.

The Star Tribune reports the legal battle has been going on for almost a year, but it was settled with the museum group prohibited from using the names "Red Wing Pottery," and "Red Wing Stoneware Co," or include a wing logo or some combination without permission.

The Red Wing Pottery Museum opened in 2001, according to its website, but its name was changed "The Pottery Museum of Red Wing" at the request of the Johnsons after they bought the pottery firm in 2013.

Bruce Johnson told the Star Tribune he filed the lawsuit after learning the museum intended to use his company's trademarks in other ways, though he admits he never saw an actual use of the disputed trademark by the group.

In December, the Johnsons closed the Red Wing Pottery showroom on Main Street, in response to the "threats and harassment" they said they'd received from the local business community.

"We would never have anticipated the hatred and anger we have faced in this community over trying to revive this great business," he said at the time. "We are worn out, stressed out and exhausted from being bullied by a small portion of the business community that seems to have incredible power in this city."

Now both sides are happy with the result.

"We’re really happy with what we have, that’s why we settled," Johnson told the Pioneer Press, saying the settlement protects his company's trademark, while not forcing the museum to change their practices in any way. No damages were awarded either.

"We’re very pleased with the settlement," Dave Hallstrom, president of the foundation, told the newspaper. "We’re going to keep doing business as we always have."

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