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Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Updated: November 27, 6:57 PM ET
Slater subpoenaed in brand dispute

By Keith Hamm
ESPN.com

Kelly Slater is expected to testify in a dispute between his VSTR brand and World Marketing's Visitor line, but he's in Hawaii trying to win his 12th ASP World Title.

Defending ASP world champ Kelly Slater has been called to testify in a Southern California courtroom over a trademark dispute between his clothing brand, VSTR, and New York-based apparel maker World Marketing.

At issue is whether Slater's VSTR -- which stands for Visiting, Surfing, Traveling, Responsibility -- violates a trademark that World Marketing has held on its Visitor apparel line since 1998.

Under the Quiksilver umbrella, Slater launched VSTR in January. In March, World Marketing sent Quiksilver a cease-and-desist letter, to which the apparel giant responded in court, claiming no infringement. The complaint explains that VSTR is pronounced by saying each letter separately, rather than saying "visitor."

However, during the brand's rollout earlier this year, VSTR was widely reported as an acronym, pronounced "visitor." Earlier this week, a representative who picked up the phone at the brand's customer service number listed at its website also referred to the brand as "visitor."

World Marketing has countersued, and on November 14 served the 11-time world champ a subpoena. Slater reportedly responded by saying he's not available to testify at the moment, as he's too busy "preparing full-time" for the last stop on the ASP's 2012 Championship Tour. Yet again, Slater's a contender for the title, breathing down the neck of tour frontrunner Joel Parkinson.

"I can't really talk about the case," World Marketing VP Neil Mossberg told a New York paper earlier this month. "I will say this: I know we are not as famous as Kelly Slater, and I know our stock is not traded like Quiksilver's. I also know we will not be wiped out without a fight."

"We have no comment on this," Fresh and Clean Media's Shelby Meade, who heads up Slater's publicity team, told ESPN.com. The Billabong Pipe Masters, held on Hawaii's North Shore, marks the tenth and final event of this season's ASP World Tour. The window opens December 8.