Indian Motorcycle

Indian Motorcycle started production in 1901–several years before Harley Davidson–and became the first major motorcycle company in the world. It dominated in speed and distance records, and supplied many of the motorcycles used in the World War I and II war effort. Following the war, Indian struggled with re-entry into the public market; it stopped making cruisers in the 1950s and by the 1970s had fragmented into various companies.

For the next three decades, there was unending litigation among the various companies claiming to be Indian’s true successor with the right to use the “Indian” trademark.  Because of the litigation, none of the contenders was able to bring a motorcycle to market. Some sold parts or apparel, but they were all essentially insolvent. 

Sterling Consulting Corporation was appointed receiver for one of the insolvent companies in 1995, and realized that litigation would not solve the situation.  So Sterling instead embarked on an aggressive and creative solution—to gather up all the colorable claims to the Indian trademark and resolve the dispute via transaction rather than litigation. 

With the help of Fairfield and Woods, Sterling was then able to obtain an order from the U. S. District Court that not only did the receiver have custody of the Indian trademark, but the trademark itself was “famous and well-known,” and thus entitled to enhanced protection under the trademark law. 

With that order in hand, Sterling was able to attract buyers willing to pay enough to satisfy all the creditors and investors of all the companies (many of whom had been defrauded) in full.  Today, Indian Motorcycle cruisers are being made in the United States for the first time since the 1950s, and Indian Motorcycle is back in business in every sense of the word.