September 23, 2016

Indiana Copyright Litigation: Bell Sues Shuttered Auto Repair Shop for Infringing Copyrighted Photo

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Indianapolis, Indiana - Plaintiff Richard Bell of McCordsville, Indiana, a copyright lawyer and professional photographer, sued Defendant Hornberger Imports, Inc. of Beech Grove, Indiana in the Southern District of Indiana for copyright infringement.

As with most or all of Bell's recent Indiana copyright litigation, this lawsuit pertains to works that have been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office under Reg. No. VA0001785115. This registration covers two photos, Bell's "Indianapolis Photo" and his "Indianapolis Nighttime Photo."

In this lawsuit, Bell contends that Defendant Hornberger infringed his copyright in the "Indianapolis Nighttime Photo" by publishing the photo on Hornberger's website at www.hornbergerimports.com sometime in 2016 without having purchased a license to do so. Bell's complaint states that Defendant "continue [sic] infringing conduct which has caused and is causing substantial and irreparable injury and damage to Plaintiff...and, unless, restrained, will cause further irreparable injury." The complaint further contends that the alleged ongoing infringement is being willfully engaged in "with oppression, fraud, and malice."

In addition to copyright infringement, a claim of unfair competition is included. Bell seeks injunctive relief along with statutory damages, costs and attorney fees.

Practice Tip #1: Hornberger Imports appears to have ceased operations in February 2015.

Practice Tip #2: Bell is a prolific copyright litigant. We have blogged about his copyright litigation in the past. See:

Bell's Copyright Litigation Expands to Include IU, Purdue and Others
Copyright Attorney Shifts to Alleging Infringement of Different Photo
Attorney/Plaintiff Accuses Wisconsin Analytics Firm of Copyright Infringement
Bell Names Aramark in Latest Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
Attorney/Photographer Sues North Carolina Hotel Operator
Attorney/Plaintiff Bell Files Three New Lawsuits Over Photo of Indianapolis Skyline
Eight New Infringement Lawsuits Filed by Attorney/Plaintiff
Attorney/Photographer Files Two New Infringement Lawsuits
Lawsuit by Frequent Copyright Litigant Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction
District Court Terminates Copyright Suit Over Photo; Plaintiff Appeals
Remaining Copyright Defendants in Bell Lawsuit to be Dismissed
Attorney/Photographer Sues Georgia Real Estate Company for Infringing Copyrighted Photo
Sovereign Immunity May Take a Toll on Bell's Latest Copyright Lawsuit
Appellate Court Dismisses Copyright Appeal as Premature
Bell Rings in the Holiday Weekend with a New Copyright Lawsuit
Bell Files New Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
Bell Sues Georgia-Based FindTicketsFast.com for Copyright Infringement
Richard Bell Files Two New Copyright Infringement Lawsuits
Court Prevents Copyright Plaintiff Bell from Outmaneuvering Legal System; Orders Bell to Pay Almost $34,000 in Fees and Costs
Three Default Judgments of $2,500 Ordered for Copyright Infringement
Court Orders Severance of Misjoined Copyright Infringement Complaint

Richard Bell Files Another Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Continue reading "Indiana Copyright Litigation: Bell Sues Shuttered Auto Repair Shop for Infringing Copyrighted Photo" »

September 22, 2016

Indiana Copyright Litigation: Ziggy's Bar & Grill Sued by BMI for Copyright Infringement

Indianapolis, Indiana - A copyright litigator for Broadcast Music, Inc. ("BMI") of New York, New York filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging copyright infringement.

Defendants in this Indiana litigation, all residents of Indianapolis, Indiana, consist of one business entity, KD&R Enterprises LLC d/b/a Ziggy's a/k/a Ziggy's Bar & Grill, and three individuals, Krista Stallings, Denice Benefiel and Ryan Cromer.

Defendant KD&R Enterprises is accused of publicly performing copyrighted musical compositions and/or causing such musical compositions to be publicly performed without authorization. The complaint lists Stallings, Benefiel and Cromer separately as Defendants on the grounds that each is an officer or member of KD&R Enterprises with a responsibility for its operation and that each has a direct financial interest in the company.

The complaint alleges that Defendants were contacted 70 or more times "in an effort to educate Defendants as to their obligations under the Copyright Act with respect to the necessity of purchasing a license for the public performance of musical compositions in the BMI repertoire" but that infringement of BMI's copyrighted works continued. In this lawsuit, six claims of willful infringement are made against Defendants.

BMI is joined in this copyright litigation by the owners of the copyrighted works: Dennis Linde Legacy, Rondor Music International, Inc. d/b/a Irving Music, Songpainter Music, Universal-Songs of Polygram International, Inc., Songs of Universal, Inc., Escatawpa Songs and McMoore McLesst Publishing.

Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief along with statutory damages, costs and attorney's fees.

Continue reading "Indiana Copyright Litigation: Ziggy's Bar & Grill Sued by BMI for Copyright Infringement" »

September 21, 2016

Indiana Trademark Litigation: Student-Housing Firms in Dispute over Use of "ANNEX"

Indianapolis, Indiana - Plaintiff Mecca Companies Inc. d/b/a Annex Student Living of Indianapolis, Indiana filed a trademark infringement complaint in the Southern District of Indiana against Defendant Trinitas Ventures LLC of Lafayette, Indiana.

Mecca offers student-housing services in three states, including Indiana and Ohio, under THE ANNEX or ANNEX. It states that it began to use ANNEX to identify its student housing in 2013 but makes no mention of having received a federal or state trademark registration.

Mecca contends that Trinitas offers competing services in an Ohio student-housing property using the name ANNEX and asserts that this use is likely to cause consumer confusion. In this federal lawsuit, brought by Indiana trademark attorneys for Mecca, the following causes of action are listed:

• Count I: Trademark Infringement and Unfair Competition Under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)
• Count II: Violation of Ohio Deceptive Trade Practices Act, ORC 4165.02

• Count III: Common Law Unfair Competition under Ohio Law

Mecca seeks damages, including punitive damages, along with injunctive relief, costs and attorneys' fees.

Continue reading "Indiana Trademark Litigation: Student-Housing Firms in Dispute over Use of "ANNEX"" »

September 19, 2016

Indiana Copyright Litigation: Bell's Copyright Litigation Expands to Include IU, Purdue and Others

Indianapolis, Indiana - Copyright attorney and professional photographer Richard Bell of McCordsville, Indiana filed four new lawsuits in the Southern District of Indiana alleging copyright infringement.

Defendants in these four new cases are: Indiana University of Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana; Purdue University of West Lafayette, Indiana; David Powell and Midwest Regional Network for Intervention with Sex Offenders of Indianapolis, Indiana; and East Coast Health Insurance, Inc. of Deerfield Beach, Florida.

At issue in these four lawsuits are two photos, Bell's "Indianapolis Photo" and his "Indianapolis Nighttime Photo," which have been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office under Registration No. VA0001785115.

Bell contends that the two universities infringed the copyright of the "Indianapolis Photo," while the remaining Defendants are accused of having infringed the "Indianapolis Nighttime Photo."

Bell makes claims of "Copyright Infringement and Unfair Competition" and seeks statutory damages, injunctive relief, costs and attorneys' fees.

Practice Tip: Bell is a frequent copyright litigant in Indiana. Our previous posts about his litigation include:

Copyright Attorney Shifts to Alleging Infringement of Different Photo
Attorney/Plaintiff Accuses Wisconsin Analytics Firm of Copyright Infringement
Bell Names Aramark in Latest Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
Attorney/Photographer Sues North Carolina Hotel Operator
Attorney/Plaintiff Bell Files Three New Lawsuits Over Photo of Indianapolis Skyline
Eight New Infringement Lawsuits Filed by Attorney/Plaintiff
Attorney/Photographer Files Two New Infringement Lawsuits
Lawsuit by Frequent Copyright Litigant Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction
District Court Terminates Copyright Suit Over Photo; Plaintiff Appeals
Remaining Copyright Defendants in Bell Lawsuit to be Dismissed
Attorney/Photographer Sues Georgia Real Estate Company for Infringing Copyrighted Photo
Sovereign Immunity May Take a Toll on Bell's Latest Copyright Lawsuit
Appellate Court Dismisses Copyright Appeal as Premature
Bell Rings in the Holiday Weekend with a New Copyright Lawsuit
Bell Files New Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
Bell Sues Georgia-Based FindTicketsFast.com for Copyright Infringement
Richard Bell Files Two New Copyright Infringement Lawsuits
Court Prevents Copyright Plaintiff Bell from Outmaneuvering Legal System; Orders Bell to Pay Almost $34,000 in Fees and Costs
Three Default Judgments of $2,500 Ordered for Copyright Infringement
Court Orders Severance of Misjoined Copyright Infringement Complaint

Richard Bell Files Another Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Continue reading "Indiana Copyright Litigation: Bell's Copyright Litigation Expands to Include IU, Purdue and Others" »

September 16, 2016

Indiana Copyright Litigation: Copyright Attorney Shifts to Alleging Infringement of Different Photo

Indianapolis, Indiana - Copyright attorney and Plaintiff Richard Bell of McCordsville, Indiana filed a new group of lawsuits in the Southern District of Indiana asserting infringement of a copyrighted photo.

The photo in question in these latest lawsuits, Bell's "Indianapolis Nighttime Photo," was registered on August 4, 2011 with the U.S. Copyright Office under Registration No. VA0001785115. In most of Bell's prior litigation asserting infringement of his copyrighted photos (see "Practice Tip" below), only his "Indianapolis Photo," taken during the daytime, has been at issue.

Three new Defendants are the subjects of these copyright lawsuits: Dave Tipton of Indianapolis, Indiana, Keith Buckley of Fishers, Indiana and A Place for Mom, Inc. of Everett, Washington. Bell contends that each Defendant "downloaded or took the Indianapolis Nighttime Photo from the internet without permission from the owner, Richard N. Bell and copied on to [sic] a webserver controlled by the Defendant" and, in so doing, committed copyright infringement.

Each of the lawsuits lists a count of "Copyright Infringement and Unfair Competition." Bell seeks injunctive relief along with statutory damages, costs and attorneys' fees.

Practice Tip: We have blogged about Bell's copyright lawsuits numerous times in the past. See:

Attorney/Plaintiff Accuses Wisconsin Analytics Firm of Copyright Infringement
Bell Names Aramark in Latest Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
Attorney/Photographer Sues North Carolina Hotel Operator
Attorney/Plaintiff Bell Files Three New Lawsuits Over Photo of Indianapolis Skyline
Eight New Infringement Lawsuits Filed by Attorney/Plaintiff
Attorney/Photographer Files Two New Infringement Lawsuits
Lawsuit by Frequent Copyright Litigant Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction
District Court Terminates Copyright Suit Over Photo; Plaintiff Appeals
Remaining Copyright Defendants in Bell Lawsuit to be Dismissed
Attorney/Photographer Sues Georgia Real Estate Company for Infringing Copyrighted Photo
Sovereign Immunity May Take a Toll on Bell's Latest Copyright Lawsuit
Appellate Court Dismisses Copyright Appeal as Premature
Bell Rings in the Holiday Weekend with a New Copyright Lawsuit
Bell Files New Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
Bell Sues Georgia-Based FindTicketsFast.com for Copyright Infringement
Richard Bell Files Two New Copyright Infringement Lawsuits
Court Prevents Copyright Plaintiff Bell from Outmaneuvering Legal System; Orders Bell to Pay Almost $34,000 in Fees and Costs
Three Default Judgments of $2,500 Ordered for Copyright Infringement
Court Orders Severance of Misjoined Copyright Infringement Complaint

Richard Bell Files Another Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Continue reading "Indiana Copyright Litigation: Copyright Attorney Shifts to Alleging Infringement of Different Photo" »

September 15, 2016

Indiana Trademark Litigation: Allison Transmission Alleges Infringement of TES 295 Trademarks

Indianapolis, Indiana - Trademark attorneys for Plaintiff Allison Transmission, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana filed a lawsuit against Fleetpride, Inc. of Irving, Texas asserting trademark infringement.

Plaintiff Allison is a manufacturer of medium- and heavy-duty automatic transmissions. In conjunction with the manufacture and sale of transmissions, Allison developed a standard under which it would certify transmission fluids as approved for use in its transmissions. This standard, "TES 295," is incorporated into a family of trademarks, Reg. No. 4,379,699, Reg. No. 4,166,531 and Reg. No. 4,993,880, which have been registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

In 2015, Allison discovered what it alleges was an infringing use of the TES 295 trademark by Defendant Fleetpride. Allison contends that Fleetpride offered transmission oil under the name PRIMATECH TES295 and used a version of Allison's TES 295 trademarks, both in its product numbers and its advertising. Trademark lawyers for Allison contacted Fleetpride to address Allison's concerns, but no resolution was reached.

This litigation, filed in the Southern District of Indiana, followed. In the complaint, filed yesterday in federal court, Fleetpride is accused of "intentional, willful, and bad faith attempts to deceive or to create mistake or confusion in the minds of customers" as a result of its use of "TES295." The lawsuit lists the following claims for relief:

• Count I: Infringement of Federally Registered Trademark (Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1))
• Count II: Federal Unfair Competition and False Designation of Origin (Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(A))
• Count III: Common Law Unfair Competition and Trademark Infringement

• Count IV: False Description of Goods

Allison is seeking damages, including treble damages, along with injunctive relief, costs of the lawsuit and attorneys' fees.

Continue reading "Indiana Trademark Litigation: Allison Transmission Alleges Infringement of TES 295 Trademarks" »

September 9, 2016

Patent Office Issues 215 Patents To Indiana Citizens in August 2016

The U.S. Patent Office issued the following 215 patent registrations to persons and businesses in Indiana in August 2016, based on applications filed by Indiana patent attorneys:

Patent No. Title
1 D765,221 Filter element 
2 D765,046 Connection enclosure 
3 D765,032 Four prong plug 
4 D764,920 Bottle 
5 9,431,863 Insulation component for an electric machine and method of assembly 
6 9,431,690 Dielectric waveguide filter with direct coupling and alternative cross-coupling 
7 9,430,549 Knowledge capture and discovery system 
8 9,430,345 Command interface for communication test framework 
9 9,429,586 Automatic analyzer 
10 9,429,350 Shipping box system with multiple insulation layers 

Continue reading "Patent Office Issues 215 Patents To Indiana Citizens in August 2016" »

September 8, 2016

Indiana Copyright Litigation: Airbrushing Firm Sues Boat Seller for Copyright Infringement, Breach of Contract

South Bend, Indiana - Copyright lawyers for Plaintiff The Art of Design, Inc. of Elkhart, Indiana filed an intellectual property lawsuit in the Northern District of Indiana. Defendants in this Indiana lawsuit are Pontoon Boat, LLC d/b/a Bennington and Bennington Marine of Elkhart, Indiana and Hawkeye Boat Sales, Inc. of Dubuque, Iowa.

Plaintiff is in the business of custom airbrushing, including the airbrushing of copyrighted art works onto different surfaces. Defendants offer marine goods, including pontoon boats. In 2011, Plaintiff and Bennington entered into an agreement wherein Bennington paid Plaintiff to apply copyrighted graphics, titled "Shatter Graphics," to a limited number of Bennington's pontoon boats in exchange for payment.

Plaintiff contends that, following this authorized application of Shatter Graphics to Defendants' pontoon boats, Defendant made further use of the copyrighted design without Plaintiff's authorization.

In this Indiana litigation, Plaintiff makes several allegations, including accusing Defendant of copyright infringement for the sale of pontoon boats bearing graphics "that are copied from and substantially similar to" Plaintiff's Shatter Graphics, which has been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office under Registration numbers VA 1-979-388 and 1-982-002. The lawsuit lists the following claims for relief:

• Count I - Breach of Contract against Bennington
• Count II - Unjust Enrichment against all Defendants
• Count III - Copyright Infringement against all Defendants
• Count IV - Unfair Competition against all Defendants
• Count V - Inducing Copyright Infringement against Bennington

• Count VI - Violations of DMCA, 17 U.S.C. § 1202

Plaintiff is seeking damages, including treble damages, as well as equitable relief, costs and attorneys' fees.

Practice Tip: Plaintiff's copyright attorneys also represent frequent litigant Design Basics. We have blogged about Design Basics' Indiana copyright litigation before. See:

Design Basics Sues Fort Wayne Homebuilders
Creator of Architectural Designs Files Two New Copyright Lawsuits
Design Basics Files Three New Indiana Copyright Lawsuits
Architecture Firms File Four New Infringement Lawsuits
Design Basics Files Two New Copyright Lawsuits
Architecture Firm Files New Lawsuit Asserting Infringement
Design Basics Files Two Additional Infringement Lawsuits in the Northern District
Design Basics Files Additional Indiana Lawsuit

Design Basics Sues Builders and Others Alleging Infringement of Copyrighted Architectural Designs

Continue reading "Indiana Copyright Litigation: Airbrushing Firm Sues Boat Seller for Copyright Infringement, Breach of Contract " »

September 7, 2016

Indiana Copyright Litigation: Attorney/Plaintiff Accuses Wisconsin Analytics Firm of Copyright Infringement

Indianapolis, Indiana - Serial litigant Richard N. Bell of McCordsville, Indiana filed a new lawsuit alleging copyright infringement in the Southern District of Indiana. This litigation names analytics firm Aurora Worldwide Development Corporation of Madison, Wisconsin as Defendant.

Aurora is accused of infringing Bell's copyright in a photo titled "Indianapolis Photo," which has been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office under Registration No. VA0001785115. Bell claims that Aurora published the copyrighted photo without proper authorization on its website, aurorawdc.com, as well as within a PDF file located on another website that Aurora controls.

In this lawsuit, Bell, an Indiana copyright lawyer and professional photographer, also contends that Defendant's conduct disparaged him, stating that Aurora "willfully and recklessly falsely claimed that it client [sic] owned the copyrights of all images and photos contained on the website of aurorawdc.com including Indianapolis Photo and thereby disparaged the Plaintiff."

Bell includes claims of "copyright infringement and unfair competition" in this lawsuit. He seeks injunctive relief along with statutory damages, costs and attorneys' fees.

Practice Tip: Bell is a frequent copyright litigant in Indiana federal courts. Previous blog posts about his cases include:

Bell Names Aramark in Latest Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
Attorney/Photographer Sues North Carolina Hotel Operator
Attorney/Plaintiff Bell Files Three New Lawsuits Over Photo of Indianapolis Skyline
Eight New Infringement Lawsuits Filed by Attorney/Plaintiff
Attorney/Photographer Files Two New Infringement Lawsuits
Lawsuit by Frequent Copyright Litigant Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction
District Court Terminates Copyright Suit Over Photo; Plaintiff Appeals
Remaining Copyright Defendants in Bell Lawsuit to be Dismissed
Attorney/Photographer Sues Georgia Real Estate Company for Infringing Copyrighted Photo
Sovereign Immunity May Take a Toll on Bell's Latest Copyright Lawsuit
Appellate Court Dismisses Copyright Appeal as Premature
Bell Rings in the Holiday Weekend with a New Copyright Lawsuit
Bell Files New Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
Bell Sues Georgia-Based FindTicketsFast.com for Copyright Infringement
Richard Bell Files Two New Copyright Infringement Lawsuits
Court Prevents Copyright Plaintiff Bell from Outmaneuvering Legal System; Orders Bell to Pay Almost $34,000 in Fees and Costs
Three Default Judgments of $2,500 Ordered for Copyright Infringement
Court Orders Severance of Misjoined Copyright Infringement Complaint

Richard Bell Files Another Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Continue reading "Indiana Copyright Litigation: Attorney/Plaintiff Accuses Wisconsin Analytics Firm of Copyright Infringement" »

September 1, 2016

221 Trademark Registrations Issued to Indiana Companies in August 2016

The U.S. Trademark Office issued the following 221 trademark registrations to persons and businesses in Indiana in August 2016 based on applications filed by Indiana trademark attorneys:

Registration No.  Word Mark Click To View
5021181 SPOT FREIGHT TSDR
5021106 KNOX COUNTY RENTALS TSDR
5021039 THE KING JAMES BIBLE THE CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF THE TRUTH THE SCRIPTURES ALONE BIBLE SCHOOL THY WORD IS TRUTH TSDR
5021008 NOTRE DAME FCU TSDR
5021000 PRIVATE MEMBER GROUP AT NOTRE DAME FEDERAL CREDIT UNION TSDR
5020984 CREATE YOUR OWN STORY TSDR
5020927 NIGHTMARE ON EDGEWOOD TSDR
5020918 GET TRENDING TSDR

Continue reading "221 Trademark Registrations Issued to Indiana Companies in August 2016" »

August 30, 2016

Indiana Copyright Litigation: Bell Names Aramark in Latest Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Indianapolis, Indiana - Plaintiff Richard N. Bell of McCordsville, Indiana initiated the latest of a string of Indiana lawsuits alleging copyright infringement of his "Indianapolis Photo," which has been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office under Registration No. VA0001785115.

This litigation, which was filed in the Southern District of Indiana, alleges that Defendant Aramark Corporation infringed Bell's copyright by publishing his "Indianapolis Photo" on Aramark's website.

In this intellectual property lawsuit, Bell, an Indiana copyright attorney and professional photographer, lists a single count - "Copyright Infringement and Unfair Competition." Bell states that Defendant Aramark acted "recklessly, willfully" and in "conscious disregard" of his rights under copyright law. He seeks injunctive relief along with statutory damages, costs and attorneys' fees.

Practice Tip: Bell has filed numerous lawsuits in recent years alleging infringement of his "Indianapolis Photo" as well as his "Indianapolis Nighttime Photo." These lawsuits have been discussed on this blog before. See:

Attorney/Photographer Sues North Carolina Hotel Operator
Attorney/Plaintiff Bell Files Three New Lawsuits Over Photo of Indianapolis Skyline
Eight New Infringement Lawsuits Filed by Attorney/Plaintiff
Attorney/Photographer Files Two New Infringement Lawsuits
Lawsuit by Frequent Copyright Litigant Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction
District Court Terminates Copyright Suit Over Photo; Plaintiff Appeals
Remaining Copyright Defendants in Bell Lawsuit to be Dismissed
Attorney/Photographer Sues Georgia Real Estate Company for Infringing Copyrighted Photo
Sovereign Immunity May Take a Toll on Bell's Latest Copyright Lawsuit
Appellate Court Dismisses Copyright Appeal as Premature
Bell Rings in the Holiday Weekend with a New Copyright Lawsuit
Bell Files New Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
Bell Sues Georgia-Based FindTicketsFast.com for Copyright Infringement
Richard Bell Files Two New Copyright Infringement Lawsuits
Court Prevents Copyright Plaintiff Bell from Outmaneuvering Legal System; Orders Bell to Pay Almost $34,000 in Fees and Costs
Three Default Judgments of $2,500 Ordered for Copyright Infringement
Court Orders Severance of Misjoined Copyright Infringement Complaint

Richard Bell Files Another Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Continue reading "Indiana Copyright Litigation: Bell Names Aramark in Latest Copyright Infringement Lawsuit" »

August 23, 2016

Indiana Patent Litigation: RV Components Makers in Court Again Over Patent Covering Room Seal

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South Bend, Indiana - Plaintiff Lifetime Industries, Inc. ("LTI") of Elkhart, Indiana filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant Trim-Lok, Inc. of Buena Park, California infringed Plaintiff's patent for a "Two-Part Seal for a Slide-Out Room."

The patent-in-suit, U. S. Patent No. 6,966,590 (the "'590 patent"), has been issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Plaintiff states that it "currently produces, sells, and distributes two-part seals covered by the '590 patent" (collectively, "LTI Seals"), which are directed towards the addition of a slide-out room to a recreational vehicle. The LTI Seals include "a mounting portion and a separate bulb portion that slidably connects to the mounting portion."

Plaintiff asserts that Defendant makes, uses, sells, and offers for sale a seal that, once installed on a recreational vehicle, infringes one or more claims of the '590 patent. Plaintiff indicates that it discovered this alleged wrongdoing by Defendant during a visit to Forest River, Inc., a manufacturer of recreational vehicles and mobile living quarters.

Plaintiff also contends that Defendant's infringing behavior was knowing and intentional, citing in part two former LTI engineers who began work for Trim-Lok. These two engineers purportedly had knowledge of the '590 patent and LTI asserts that they "contributed to or designed" Defendant's accused product.

In this lawsuit, filed by Indiana patent attorneys, the following counts are listed:

• Direct Infringement of the '590 Patent
• Induced Infringement of the '590 Patent

• Contributory Infringement of the '590 Patent

Plaintiff seeks damages, including treble damages, along with equitable relief, costs and attorneys' fees.

Practice Tip: This is not the first instance of patent litigation between these parties. LTI sued Trim-Lok in 2013 alleging that Trim-Lok had infringed the same patent by offering another product.

Continue reading "Indiana Patent Litigation: RV Components Makers in Court Again Over Patent Covering Room Seal" »

August 19, 2016

Indiana Trademark Litigation: Get 2 Go, Its Operators and Related Stores Sued for Infringement

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Fort Wayne, Indiana - Attorneys for Plaintiffs North Atlantic Operating Company, Inc. and National Tobacco Company, L.P., both of Louisville, Kentucky, filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging infringement of various registered trademarks covering ZIG-ZAG® roll-your-own cigarette papers and accessories. In addition to trademark infringement under federal law, Plaintiffs allege copyright infringement, false designation of origin and trade dress infringement under federal law as well as trademark infringement and unfair competition under Indiana common law.

Multiple Defendants, most of Fort Wayne, Indiana, are named in this intellectual property lawsuit: KPC Distributor Inc.; Kuldeep Singh; Paramjit Singh; Charanjit Singh; Burger's, Inc., d.b.a. Burger Dairy; JGM Stores Inc., d.b.a. Burger Dairy II; Kirandeep, Inc., d.b.a. Crescent Corner Express; KSL Stores Inc., d.b.a. Get 2 Go #10; KSL Holdings Inc., d.b.a. Get 2 Go #13; Coliseum Quick Mart Inc., a.k.a. Get 2 Go #15; Calhoun Store Inc., a.k.a. Get 2 Go 16; KPC Brothers Inc., a.k.a. Get 2 Go #17 d.b.a. Get 2 Go; Get 2 Go #18; Virk Brothers Enterprises Inc., a.k.a. Get 2 Go 19, d.b.a. Shell Get 2 Go #19; JAT Boyz Stores Inc., a.k.a Harlan Quick Stop; KPC Investments LLC, a.k.a. Iceway Express; John Does 1-10; and XYZ Companies 1-10.

At issue in this Indiana lawsuit are the following trademarks: Registration No. 610,530 for ZIG-ZAG (stylized), Registration No. 1,127,946 for ZIG-ZAG (text), Registration No. 2,169,540 for Smoking Man (design with circle border), Registration No.2,169,549 for Smoking Man (design with no border), Registration Nos. 2,664,694 and 2,664,695 for North Atlantic Operating Company, Inc. (design), and Registration Nos. 2,610,473 and 2,635,446 for North Atlantic Operating Company (text), all of which have been registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The ZIG-ZAG trademarks are owned by a French company, Bolloré, S.A., which is not a party to this litigation, and are licensed to Plaintiff North Atlantic.

Defendants are accused of engaging in a widespread scheme to acquire, sell and/or distribute counterfeit products bearing various registered trademarks and/or copyrighted text that Plaintiffs allege is protected by law. This text includes the phrase "Distributed by North Atlantic Operating Company, Inc."

Plaintiffs further contend that one or more Defendants' conduct was willful. They contend that this was demonstrated on more than one occasion when a North Atlantic representative requested a receipt for the purchase of accused goods and this request was refused. On one occasion, when the representative insisted on a receipt, Plaintiffs state that "Defendant KPC Distributor ripped the receipt in two pieces, keeping the piece that displayed Defendant KPC Distributor's contact information for itself."

In this Indiana intellectual property lawsuit, filed by trademark litigators for Plaintiffs, Defendants are accused of having sold "dozens of cartons and hundreds of booklets of confirmed counterfeit ZIG-ZAG® Orange to undercover North Atlantic representatives." Plaintiffs state the following claims:

• Federal Trademark Infringement (15 U.S.C. § 1114)
• False Designation of Origin and Trademark/Trade Dress Infringement (15 U.S.C. § 1225(a))
• Federal Copyright Infringement (17 U.S.C. §§ 101 et seq.)
• Common Law Unfair Competition

• Common Law Trademark Infringement

Plaintiffs ask the federal court for damages, injunctive relief, costs and attorneys' fees.

Continue reading "Indiana Trademark Litigation: Get 2 Go, Its Operators and Related Stores Sued for Infringement" »

August 17, 2016

Indiana Trademark Litigation: Venue in Northern District Not Improper Under "Substantial Part of the Events" Test

Fort Wayne, Indiana - The Northern District of Indiana has denied Defendant's motion to dismiss for improper venue, citing the connection of the Northern District to the events underlying the litigation.

This Indiana trademark litigation, Family Express Corp. v. Square Donuts, Inc., was filed to resolve a dispute over the use of the words "Square Donuts" in connection with the sale of donuts by two different Indiana-based companies.

Defendant Square Donuts of Terre Haute, Indiana claims trademark rights to "Square Donuts" under federal and Indiana law. It currently sells its "Square Donuts" in bakeries located in southern and central Indiana, including locations in Terre Haute, Indianapolis, Bloomington, and Richmond.

Plaintiff Family Express of Valparaiso, Indiana operates convenience stores in northern Indiana and uses the term "Square Donuts" in conjunction with doughnut sales. Plaintiff states that both it and Defendant are expanding their respective businesses into new markets, with Defendant expanding to the north while Plaintiff expands to the south. Thus, territory in which both operate concurrently has become a possibility.

In 2006, Defendant sent a cease-and-desist letter to Plaintiff. Plaintiff and Defendant subsequently discussed the possibility of entering into a co-existence arrangement, but did reach an agreement.

This trademark lawsuit followed. Plaintiff asks the Indiana federal court to declare that its use of the term does not infringe on the trademark rights in "Square Donuts" asserted by Defendant. Plaintiff also asks the court to cancel Defendant's existing Indiana and federal "Square Donuts" trademarks.

Trademark litigators for Defendant asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that it had been filed in an improper venue. In evaluating whether venue in the Northern District was permissible, the court first noted that, while it "must resolve all factual disputes and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor," Plaintiff then bears the burden of establishing that venue is proper. It also noted that venue can be proper in more than one district.

The federal venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), provides that venue can exist in "(1) a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants reside [in the same state]" or "(2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of the property that is the subject of the action is situated."

Plaintiff relied on subsection (b)(2), claiming that a substantial part of the events giving rise to the lawsuit took place in the Northern District of Indiana. To establish venue, Plaintiff pointed to the fact that Defendant's cease-and-desist letter and other communications had been relayed to Plaintiff in the Northern District. At least some rulings by districts courts located within the Seventh Circuit have held that the requirements for venue "may be satisfied by a communication transmitted to or from the district in which the cause of action was filed, given a sufficient relationship between the communication and the cause of action."

The Northern District of Indiana concluded that such communications, which would be a typical element of litigation under the Declaratory Judgment Act, would defeat the purpose of protecting a defendant from having to litigate "in the plaintiff's home forum, without regard to the inconvenience to the defendant at having to defend an action in that forum or whether the defendant has engaged in substantial activities in that forum."

Instead, the Indiana court considered the underlying substance of the dispute: "whether the Defendant's Square Donuts trademark is valid and, if it is, whether the Plaintiff nevertheless has refrained from infringing on the trademark in connection with the sale of its Square Donuts." The court concluded that, given the extent to which the claims and events at issue in the litigation took place in both the Northern and the Southern District of Indiana, venue was not improper in the Northern District of Indiana.

Practice Tip #1: If neither subsection (b)(1) nor (b)(2) of 28 U.S.C. § 1391 applies, a third subsection may be utilized. That subsection, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(3), permits venue in "any judicial district in which any defendant is subject to the court's personal jurisdiction with respect to such action."

Practice Tip #2: An inquiry into proper venue for a lawsuit is different from one into personal jurisdiction. Personal jurisdiction "goes to the court's power to exercise control over a party," while venue is "primarily a matter of choosing a convenient forum."

Continue reading "Indiana Trademark Litigation: Venue in Northern District Not Improper Under "Substantial Part of the Events" Test" »

August 16, 2016

Seventh Circuit - Trademark Law: Unauthorized Copying of Karaoke Tracks May be Piracy, but Not Trademark Infringement

Chicago, Illinois - The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Plaintiffs Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. and its successor in interest Phoenix Entertainment Partners LLC (collectively, "Slep-Tone") in a Lanham Act lawsuit asserting trademark infringement and trade dress infringement.

Trademark attorneys for serial litigant Slep-Tone have filed more than 150 lawsuits throughout the country under the Lanham Act alleging unauthorized copying and performance of Slep-Tone's karaoke tracks. Slep-Tone contends that such activities constitute trademark infringement and trade dress infringement.

This federal litigation springs from a technology upgrade available to Slep-Tone customers. Earlier formats on which karaoke songs were offered included CD+G compact discs (with the +G referring to the graphic component) and MP3+G media. With the advent of large-capacity hard drives, some customers opted to transfer the files contained on their lawfully purchased CD+G or MP3+G to a hard drive, a practice known as "media shifting." Because many compact discs can be stored on one hard drive, media shifting removed the need to swap between multiple discs to access different songs. This transfer was permitted by Slep-Tone as long as the customers notified Slep-Tone, agreed to certain terms that restricted multiple copies from being made and agreed to submit to an audit to certify compliance with Slep-Tone's media-shifting policy.

In this lawsuit, filed against Defendants Basket Case Pub, Inc. of Peoria, Illinois and Dannette Rumsey, its president and owner, Slep-Tone alleged that Defendants violated the media-shifting policy. This, it asserted, resulted in an improper "passing off" of illegitimate "bootleg" copies of tracks as genuine Slep-Tone tracks.

Slep-Tone contended that when these unauthorized copies were played by Defendants, the pub's customers would be confused, believing that "they are seeing and hearing a legitimate, authentic Slep-Tone track, when in fact they are seeing an unauthorized copy." This conduct, it claims, is prohibited trademark and trade dress infringement.

A district court in the Central District of Illinois concluded that Slep-Tone had not plausibly alleged that Defendants' conduct resulted in consumer confusion as to the source of any tangible good sold in the marketplace and dismissed Plaintiffs' complaint.

The Seventh Circuit agreed. While the appellate court granted that Slep-Tone may have had a plausible complaint of copyright infringement for "theft, piracy, and violation of Slep-Tone's [media-shifting] policy," consumer confusion is the touchstone of trademark infringement and such confusion was not present. It stated:

What pub patrons see and hear is the intangible content of the karaoke tracks. They will see Slep-Tone's trademark and trade dress and believe, rightly, that Slep-Tone is the source of that intangible content. But patrons will neither see nor care about the physical medium from which the karaoke tracks are played; consequently, any confusion is not about the source of the tangible good containing the karaoke tracks.

Because Slep-Tone's assertions did not constitute trademark infringement or trade dress infringement, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the lawsuit.

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