Articles Posted in Trademark

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SMRI filed suit alleging that defendants, through their participation in the selling of Rushmore's unlicensed motorcycle rally-related products, had violated several provisions of the Lanham Act and related South Dakota statutes. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court did not err in declining to apply licensee estoppel against defendants; the trial record did not support a finding that SMRI owned the rally or its intellectual property, that SMRI and the Chamber before it have been the substantially exclusive users of the word "Sturgis" in relation to either the rally or rally-related goods and services, or that relevant consumers associate the word "Sturgis" with a single source of goods and services in any context; and thus the court reversed the jury's finding that defendants diluted the "Sturgis" mark and vacated the jury's finding that defendants engaged in cybersquatting. The court also held that defendants should have been granted judgment as a matter of law on the infringement claims relating to SMRI's unregistered marks, "Sturgis Motorcycle Rally" and "Sturgis Rally & Races," because the jury was not presented with sufficient evidence to find that the marks had acquired secondary meaning. Finally, the evidence at trial supported the jury's finding that SMRI's mark "Sturgis Bike Week" was valid; there was sufficient evidence to show that SMRI's "Monahan Composite Mark" was widely used in connection with the rally and that defendants' infringement of the mark was willful and intentional; the differences between the shot glass's design and the Monahan mark were so obvious that the jury did not have any basis in the record for its finding of a counterfeit; SMRI's claims for deceptive practices, false advertising and unfair competition were not time-barred; the district court did not err in granting judgment as a matter of law to JRE; the court vacated the district court's order granting defendants the defenses of laches and acquiescence; and the court reversed and remanded the permanent injunction. View "Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. v. Rushmore Photo & Gifts, Inc." on Justia Law

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Bruce Munro and his studio appealed the district court's dismissal of his complaint against Lucy and the denial of his motion to amend his complaint. Munro's claims stemmed from Lucy's "Light Forest" exhibition and advertising campaign that infringed on Munro's works. The Eighth Circuit affirm the district court's decision to dismiss Munro's trade dress, fraud, and tortious interference claims as well as its denial of Munro's motion to amend these claims because the proposed amendments were futile. The court held, however, that Munro sufficiently pleaded a trademark claim so as to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Munro v. Lucy Activewear, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit considered this trademark dispute on remand. In the previous appeal, the court asked the district court to address state-law questions pertaining to the availability of attorney's fees and the ownership of a contested trademark. The district court entered orders on those questions and this appeal followed. The court held that the district court erred in determining plaintiff was entitled to attorney's fees under Iowa common law. In this case, defendant's misrepresentation to the patent office was improper, but its conduct did not rise to the level of being tyrannical, cruel, or harsh under Iowa common law. Finally, the briefs and oral arguments lead the court to conclude that defendant owned a license to use the PAKSTER mark in connection with injection-molded chicken coops, injection-molded egg baskets, and injection-molded egg flats. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded with instructions. View "East Iowa Plastics, Inc. v. PI, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to PWD on a trademark infringement claim filed by ZW, another company that sells plastic bags for picking up and disposing of dog waste. The court held that ZW failed to produce any evidence from which a jury could find that consumers were likely to confuse ZW's ONEPUL wicket bags with PWD's BagSpot "one-pull" wicket bags. In regard to PWD's counterclaim that ZW's marks were invalid, the court held that there was a fact dispute as to whether the ONEPUL mark was generic or descriptive. Therefore, the court reversed as to the validity claim and remanded for further proceedings. View "ZW USA, Inc. v. PWD Systems, LLC" on Justia Law

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The court affirmed the grant of a permanent injunction enjoining BC Cleaners from using Martinizing's trademarks, concluding that Martinizing failed to prove willful infringement by BC Cleaners. Because Martinizing failed to prove that it was entitled to monetary remedies against BC Cleaners, the individual defendants were likewise not liable for damages, an accounting for profits, and attorneys' fees. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in not granting injunctive relief against the individual defendants, because BC Cleaners had agreed to stop using the trademarks. Therefore, the court reversed as to these issues; affirmed the denial of a default judgment against Defendants Lundell and Carver; and remanded with directions to enter amended judgments. View "Martinizing International v. BC Cleaners" on Justia Law

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Warner filed suit claiming that AVELA infringed their trademarks and engaged in unfair competition by licensing iconic pictures and phrases from films. On appeal, AVELA challenges a permanent injunction prohibiting them from licensing images from the films Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, as well as the animated short films featuring cat-and-mouse duo Tom and Jerry. The court concluded that AVELA’s Seventh Amendment claim is not properly before the court and thus the court declined to consider it; the court rejected AVELA's alternative claim that the $2,570,000 statutory damages award is disproportionate to the offense, insufficiently reasoned, and in violation of this court’s ruling in the previous appeal; the doctrine of judicial admissions does not bar Warner’s trademark claims; likewise, judicial estoppel does not apply; Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. does not bar Warner's trademark claims; AVELA has waived the functionality and fair use defenses; the likelihood of confusion does not always require a jury trial and, on the merits, the district court did not err by rendering summary judgment on the likelihood of confusion; the court rejected AVELA's challenges to the permanent injunction; and the district court’s order is not inconsistent with the court's ruling in the prior appeal. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Warner Bros. Entertainment v. X One X Productions" on Justia Law

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EIP filed suit against PI, alleging claims related to the PAKSTER mark under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 119, 1120, and 1125(a). PI filed counterclaims for trademark infringement and unfair competition under the Lanham Act. The district court then issued findings of fact and conclusions of law. As relevant to this appeal, the district court cancelled PI’s two federal trademark registrations and found that EIP was the prevailing party. PI now appeals the grant of attorney's fees. The court concluded that the district court lacked jurisdiction to cancel the federal registrations of PI’s trademarks, and vacated the cancellation. Having obtained no damages, injunction, or cancellation from its section 38 claim, there is no basis for concluding that EIP was the prevailing party on that claim, which EIP agrees is a precondition to receiving attorney’s fees. As a result, the court need not reach PI’s argument that attorney’s fees are not available under section 38 of the Lanham Act. The court also concluded that, because EIP was not the “prevailing party” with respect to PI’s trademark infringement and unfair competition counterclaims, it is not entitled to attorney’s fees under section 35 of the Lanham Act. Finally, the court remanded the case for further consideration of the issue of whether EIP should obtain attorney's fees because it successfully obtained a declaration that it owned the PAKSTER trademark. Accordingly, the court vacated in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "East Iowa Plastics, Inc. v. PI, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, twenty-three professional football players, filed a putative class action against the NFL, claiming that films produced by NFL-affiliate NFL Films violated the players’ rights under the right-of-publicity laws of various states as well as their rights under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125. Twenty plaintiffs settled, but appellants elected to opt out of the settlement and pursued individual right-of-publicity and Lanham Act claims. The district court granted summary judgment for the NFL. Applying the three Porous Media Corp. v. Pall Corp. factors, the court agreed with the district court’s conclusion that the films are expressive, rather than commercial speech and that the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 301(a), therefore preempts appellants’ claims. The court also concluded that appellants' claim of false endorsement under the Lanham Act fails as a matter of law because appellants provide no evidence that the films contain misleading or false statements regarding their current endorsement of the NFL. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Dryer v. National Football League" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a trademark infringement suit against defendants. The district court entered a default judgment against defendants as sanction for discovery abuses and then proceeded to enter default judgment against defendant Steven West. The court concluded that the district court and the magistrate judge did not abuse their discretion in declining to delay a hearing for damages based on West's medical issues where they were clearly skeptical of West's credibility based on their experience with him during the discovery process. The court rejected West's argument that the district court erred by not deducting overhead and operating costs from its calculation of defendants’ profits. Accordingly, because the court found no error in the district court's rulings, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Peter Kiewit Sons', Inc. v. West" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trademark

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B&B, manufacturer and seller of "Sealtight," sued Hargis, manufacturer of "Sealtite," claiming trademark infringement and unfair competition. Hargis counterclaimed for false advertising and false designation of origin. The jury rejected B&B's claims but found in favor of Hargis on its counterclaims. The Eighth Circuit concluded that the district court properly refused to apply collateral estoppel to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board's (TTAB) decision concerning likelihood of confusion; rejected B&B's argument that the TTAB's factual findings from a trademark registration case were entitled to deference; and concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the TTAB's decision from the evidence presented to the jury. On remand from the Supreme Court the Eighth Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that the ordinary elements of issue preclusion were met, and the usages of the mark adjudicated before TTAB were materially the same as the usages before the district court. On remand, the district court should give preclusive effect to the decision of the TTAB on likelihood of confusion. View "B & B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Indus., Inc." on Justia Law