Airstream says “cease and desist” to new Silver Streak plans

Ellie Dillon’s new conceptual design for Silver Streak.

It had been 20 years since Silver Streak manufactured travel trailers, the aluminum-bodied brand launched in 1946. Entrepreneur Ellie Dillon acquired the rights from former Silver Streak owner Rolf Zuschlag in 2016, writes David MacNeal in RVPRO.

Ellie and her husband, Phillip, along with a team of aircraft builders, determined to bring back the once-famous Silver Streak aircraft body trailers and began to reimagine the trailer with various designs. That’s when it caught the attention of Airstream, owned by Thor Industries.  Soon after, the Dillons received a cease-and-desist letter, which explained how Thor’s Airstream had a trade dress mark for the trailer’s design.

The trade dress mark document approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) states: “The mark consists of the combination of the color silver as applied to travel trailers and a configuration of the trailers comprising generally quarter-spherical leading roof lines and an overall curvilinear appearance.”

However, Ellie Dillon, a former professional athlete, remained undeterred. For years, the Dillons had restored vintage trailers by Silver Streak, Aero Flite, Airstream, and Vagabond Coach for resale, possibly starting a trailer museum, as well as traveling across the U.S. and Europe.

So, applying that know-how to upgrade Silver Streak into the 21st Century was a no-brainer for Ellie Dillon. The reimagined product line would come with upgrades and improvements, creating a trailer that could be shared over generations.

After receiving the letter from Thor Industries, she took the matter to the Florida Southern District Court. Lawyer in hand, a date has been set in federal court for August 2019.

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14 Thoughts to “Airstream says “cease and desist” to new Silver Streak plans”

  1. Magee Willis

    Surely there is room for both! Silver Streak is not a new brand.

  2. Johnny T

    Can a Silver Streak 5th wheel be made that skirts the issue? I prefer pulling a 5th wheel anyway.

  3. martlin c chambers

    Thor has cheapened Airstream since they bought the company but did not decreased the price. I was shocked the last time I went through a new unit. This is not your father’s Airstream!

    Thor is afraid that another company will build a trailer as good as the old Airstreams but costing much less than their version of the Airstream.

    Thor is a preditory company and all of their lines should be avoided until the company starts giving people what their money pays for, a quality RV.

    I won’t even look at any Thor RVs anymore. Quality is way down and service seems to be a thing of the past.

    1. Jeff

      Agreed. But, we have a REDWOOD and it was acquired by THOR a few years ago. So the quality is totally in the toilet.

      This will be our Last RV, since you never know when Thor the Predator will take over that company.

      I believe they own more than 50 percent of the RV Companies out there. And when a Company stops produces profits, they simply close the factory down and put all those people out of business.

      THOR IS ALL ABOUT GREED and NOT BUILDING A QUALITY PRODUCT!

  4. TP

    I’m surprised somebody doesn’t try and patent the “Fifth wheel” design.

  5. Tommy Molnar

    That’s akin to Harley Davidson trying to ‘patent’ the sound of their exhaust.

    1. The computer companies often hire real composers for their startup sounds, and these are copyrighted along with design patents. Brian Eno composed the Windows 95 startup sound, which is really beautiful. Now I don’t think that patenting the sound of a motorcycle should be allowed, but it’s a Golden Rule Thing. Here’s the Win 95 startup sound if you’re feeling nostalgic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3Ak5VgyEoc

  6. Steve flippo

    Note to self…remember to not buy an airstream for my next camper.

    This bogus airstream patent should be challenged in court. What dimwitted bureaucrat allowed a patent based on term “generally quarter spherical” ??!! You know what else is generally quarter spherical? A box if you just squash in the corners a bit.

  7. lord

    Silver Streak should think Apple design rather than Airstream design…that would actually bring RV trailers farther along into the 21st Century.

  8. Bill Bateman

    Bashing Thor is probably cathartic for some, but there are many happy Thor manufactured RV owners out there too … probably more of them than the disgruntled. This does not excuse the poor quality control exercised by virtually ALL major manufacturers … just look at the list of recalls in the left sidebar of every RV Travel newsletter.
    I do hope the Dillon family succeeds against Airstream in this case.

    1. Troy

      Bill I totally agree with you! We researched for a year before we bought our Thor Challenger. When I started hearing all the negative stuff about Thor I started looking deep at other brands to see what owners were saying about them, and it was the same crappy quality control in every manufacturer. I figured out that for the most part only the people that have problems with their RV’s are the ones that write about it…all those that aren’t having problems are too busy enjoying their RV and don’t write about it. I Love my Thor and highly encourage others to buy Thor. Now I think it’s ridiculous that they are trying to stop this other company from making RV’s and I hope Thor loses that court case.

  9. Coops

    It’s amazing Thor will sue over a look alike trailer…when every other trailer they build looks like any other trailer on the market.

    1. Magee Willis

      Absolutely!

  10. John

    I not surprised at Thor for doing that. They do not want competion for the junk they make.

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