The company holds trademark rights to No Fear, said Marty Moates, vice president of Carlsbad, Calif.-based No Fear, Inc. The company filed suit Wednesday in federal district court in Southern California, demanding that Duke stop using the name.
Last month, Duke launched his new organization, the National Organization for European American Rights, or NOFEAR. Duke has said the group's mission is to fight what he says is widespread discrimination against white people of European descent.
Duke denied Wednesday that the group's name violated trademark rights.
"The name of the organization is the National Organization for European American Rights," Duke said. "And if somebody uses the letters, that's not what we're about. That's just the initials of our organization."
Duke said he was unaware that the No Fear apparel company existed. He said no one from the company had ever spoken to him about it. Duke said an acquaintance had mentioned the trademark issue recently, but he did not believe it was a problem because his group does not use the typeface used in the company's trademark.
Moates said he does not know why Duke picked NOFEAR as an acronym, but the company's name is familiar to a young set that likes sports such as motocross, surfing and skateboarding. The company's core customers range in age from 13 to 38, he said.
"He picked the words for a reason," Moates said. "I just think it stands for something."
Duke denied he chose the term NOFEAR in a bid to appeal to young people.
"That's not what it was about," he said. "It's just that the name of the organization was National Organization for European American Rights. That's just how the letters spell. The organization is not named NOFEAR."
Duke announced the group at a news conference Jan. 21 in Washington. The following day, in an address that was broadcast by C-SPAN, he stood before a sign with the Web address nofear.net.
No Fear, Inc's Web address is nofear.com.
At the end of his speech, as he mixed themes of genetics, God and the defense of European culture, Duke said: "That's why NOFEAR exists."
Moates said some people recently have called saying they will not buy the company's products.
"I personally don't know anything about his views, just what I've read in the last week," Moates said. "We're just stopping him because he's treading on our trademark."