South Bend, IN - Trademark attorneys for Coach, Inc. of Jacksonville, FL, filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Indiana against Defendants Diva's House of Style and its owner Elizabeth Bond of Elkhart, IN, alleging multiple violations of intellectual property laws under the Lanham Act, the Copyright Act, Indiana common law and Indiana statutory law.
Lawyers for Coach sought partial summary judgment as to liability on three of its counts under the Lanham Act: trademark infringement, unfair competition and counterfeiting for the sale of products labeled as "Coach" which had not been manufactured by Plaintiffs (i.e., "knock-offs").
Defendant Bond, proceeding pro se, failed to respond to Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, as she had earlier failed to respond to the Plaintiffs' request for admissions. Defendant Diva's House of Style also attempted to proceed pro se despite the court's explicit warning that the company was not permitted to do so.
As a result of Defendant Bond's earlier failure to respond, 19 separate facts were deemed by the court to have been admitted. The undisputed facts were sufficiently robust to support summary judgment on the issue of liability for each of the three counts in question. The remaining counts, as well as a determination of damages for those counts for which Defendants were liable, were not addressed. The court also held that Ms. Bond could be held personally liable for her store's infringement as a result of her personal involvement in the misconduct.
Practice Tip: Pro se litigants should remember that failing to respond to a lawsuit - including failing to respond in a timely and procedurally appropriate manner - can have serious consequences. Moreover, when any business is operated through a corporation or LLC, the business owner is not allowed to represent the business. The business must hire a lawyer, preferably one experienced in litigation, to represent the business. Finally, while corporations are often used to shield owners of personal liability, that protection often does not apply to intellectual property infringement cases, such as those involving patents, trademarks or copyrights.