Justia U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Trademark
Phyllis Schlafly Revocable Trust v. Cori
This consolidated appeal stemmed from the trusts' motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction enjoining the use of Phyllis Schafly's intellectual property. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the denial of preliminary injunctive relief under 28 U.S.C. 1292(a)(1) and held that the trusts would not be entitled to the traditional presumption of irreparable harm in trademark cases because they did not promptly seek preliminary injunctive relief concerning the trademark infringement, regardless of whether the presumption survived recent Supreme Court decisions emphasizing the movant's burden to show that irreparable injury was likely in the absence of an injunction. The court dismissed the appeal of the order staying litigation for lack of appellate jurisdiction, because the order was temporary and did not effectively end the litigation. View "Phyllis Schlafly Revocable Trust v. Cori" on Justia Law
CMI Roadbuilding, Inc. v. Iowa Parts, Inc.
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Iowa Parts in a trademark secrets and intellectual property action brought by CMI. The court held that CMI could not establish its burden of proving that the discovery rule saves its statutory cause of action because it was on inquiry notice that Iowa Parts was making its component parts, possibly with its engineering documents and other trade secrets, starting in 2002 and continuing thereafter. The court also held that CMI was on notice of a possible problem as early as 2002 on the conversion claim. Finally, the district court properly granted summary judgment on the unjust enrichment claim where an equitable claim could not provide alternative relief. View "CMI Roadbuilding, Inc. v. Iowa Parts, Inc." on Justia Law
B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc.
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of Hargis in an action brought by B&B, alleging a trademark infringement claim involving B&B's SEALTIGHT mark and Hargis' SEALTITE mark. The court found no plain error in the district court's determination that B&B willfully failed to disclose a prior adverse decision and thus the district court did not err in its determination that B&B committed fraud on the PTO and that Hargis was therefore entitled to the affirmative defense of fraud under 15 U.S.C. 1115(b)(1). The court also held that B&B's claims were barred by collateral estoppel because B&B failed to present evidence of any significant intervening factual change from the date of the 2000 jury verdict. In regard to Hargis' cross-appeal, the court affirmed the district court's denial of Hargis' motion for attorney fees and nontaxable litigation costs. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding this an unexceptional case. View "B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc." on Justia Law
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. v. Rushmore Photo & Gifts, Inc.
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
Munro v. Lucy Activewear, Inc.
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
East Iowa Plastics, Inc. v. PI, Inc.
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
ZW USA, Inc. v. PWD Systems, LLC
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
Martinizing International v. BC Cleaners
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
Warner Bros. Entertainment v. X One X Productions
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
East Iowa Plastics, Inc. v. PI, Inc.
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