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July 23, 2014

Indiana Trademark Law: Trademark Infringement and Counterfeiting Defendants Held Liable for Both Damages and Plaintiff's Attorney's Fees

Coach-Picture.jpgSouth Bend, Indiana - Chief Judge Philip P. Simon of the Northern District of Indiana ordered Defendants The Treasure Box, Inc. and Heather Hiatt, both of Elkhart, Indiana to pay statutory damages, attorney's fees and costs to Coach, Inc. of New York, New York and Coach Services, Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida for trademark infringement and counterfeiting.

By way of summary judgment, the court had earlier determined in this Indiana trademark and counterfeit litigation that Defendants The Treasure Box and Hiatt were liable for the trademark infringement and trademark counterfeiting of Plaintiff Coach's trademarks. The court's summary judgment determinations also included a finding that "The Treasure Box and Heather Hiatt acted with knowledge and intent" that was sufficient to support enhanced statutory damages. In this opinion and order, the court fixed the amount due to Coach from Defendants.

Instead of requesting actual damages resulting from Defendants' trademark infringement and counterfeiting within Indiana, Coach opted for statutory damages under §1117(c). It asked the court for damages of $100,000 for each of the 15 infringing marks, for a total of $1,500,000. The Treasure Box and Hiatt, unrepresented by counsel at the time, filed no response or opposition to Coach's damages request.

The court first addressed the proper measure of damages. Statutory damages for trademark infringement and trademark counterfeiting under 15 U.S.C. §1114 are limited to:

(1) not less than $1,000 or more than $200,000 per counterfeit mark per type of goods..., as the court considers just; or
(2) if the court finds that the use of the counterfeit mark was willful, not more than $2,000,000 per counterfeit mark per type of good..., as the court considers just.

Because the statute provides little guidance regarding what constitutes a "just" award, the court referred to the relevant factors under the analogous statutory damages provision in the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §504(c). These considerations include: the profits reaped by the infringer; the revenues lost by the plaintiff; the value of the trademarks; whether the infringing conduct was willful; the duration of the infringement; and the potential deterrent effect on the defendant and others.

The court considered each factor in turn. It found that, because The Treasure Box's operations were both brief and "even trivial" in scale, neither Defendants' profits nor Coach's lost revenue supported a large statutory damages award. Instead, the court cited Nimmer on Copyright for the proposition that statutory damages "should be woven out of the same bolt of cloth as actual damages." "Statutory damages," said the court, "should represent some approximation of actual damages and are not to represent a windfall to a prevailing plaintiff."

In contrast, the factors of "value of the trademarks" and "willful conduct" weighed against Defendants. The court acknowledged that the Coach trademarks were valuable and noted that, in determining statutory damages, other courts had valued the trademarks at between $2,000 per mark and $30,000 per mark, for an average of approximately $14,000 per mark. Moreover, it characterized Hiatt's infringement as having been pursued with "bold willfulness" with regard to her efforts to sell what she knew was knock-off Coach merchandise.

The last two considerations - duration of infringement and potential deterrent effect on Defendant and others - weighed against a large award of damages. The Treasure Box had operated for only three months, closing in late 2011. Such a brief term of infringement, as well as the court's conclusion that Hiatt and the defunct The Treasure Box were now apparently beyond deterrence, militated in favor of lower damages. Regarding deterrence for others, the court stated, "Mom & Pop operators such as the Hiatts could doubtless be deterred from similar conduct by much less frightful sums than the $1.5 million Coach requests."

The court concluded that an award of $3,000 per trademark for each of the 15 counterfeited trademarks at issue, for a statutory damages award of $45,000, was appropriate.

The court was also asked to award to Coach attorney's fees of $14,780 pursuant to §1117(a)(3). This section permits a court "in exceptional cases" to award reasonable attorney's fees to the prevailing party. The court first noted the ambiguity inherent in the placement of §1117(a)(3) within the statute. Specifically, subsection (a) addresses recovery for actual damages, while subsection (c) allows a plaintiff to opt for statutory damages. Here, Coach chose an award of statutory damages under subsection (c), which raised the question of whether the provision for attorney's fees under §1117(a)(3) could be applied.

The only Court of Appeals to have addressed the question was the Second Circuit. That court concluded that subsection (c) offers an election as to the basis for damages, but not an election regarding remedies, including attorney's fees. Thus, it concluded, a court could award attorney's fees in conjunction with an award for either actual or statutory damages. Chief Judge Simon adopted the Second Circuit's reasoning. He also determined that the definition of an "exceptional" case - for example, one in which "the losing party was the defendant and had no defense yet persisted in trademark infringement" - was also met, given the willfulness of Defendants' knowing sale of counterfeit Coach goods and that Defendants had no viable defense.

In addition to the statutory damages award of $45,000, the court awarded attorney's fees of $14,780 as well as expenses and costs of $1,076.16 to Coach. The judgments were entered against Treasure Box, Inc. and Heather Hiatt jointly and severally.

Practice Tip: Chief Judge Simon noted that Coach had a history of requesting statutory damages that were considerably in excess of what was eventually awarded by the courts in other cases. In Coach, Inc. v. Paula's Store Sportwear LLC, 2014 WL 347893 (D.N.J. Jan. 31, 2014), Coach requested $800,000 in statutory damages - $100,000 for each of eight counterfeited marks - at a shop from which four counterfeit Coach wallets and two counterfeit Coach handbags had been seized. In that litigation for counterfeiting, the court noted that the retail value of the six counterfeit items was less than $1500 and awarded $5000 for each of the eight marks that had been counterfeited, multiplied by the two types of goods, for a total statutory damages award of $80,000.

Continue reading "Indiana Trademark Law: Trademark Infringement and Counterfeiting Defendants Held Liable for Both Damages and Plaintiff's Attorney's Fees" »

July 18, 2014

Indiana Patent and Trademark Litigation: American Archery Accused of Patent and Trademark Infringement

220px-Compound_Bow_full.jpgEvansville, Indiana - Indiana intellectual property attorneys for SOP Services, Inc. of Las Vegas, Nevada and Bear Archery, Inc. of Evansville, Indiana (collectively "Bear Archery") initiated an infringement lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that American Archery, LLC of Suwanee, Georgia infringed "Arrow Rest," Patent No. RE38,096; "Arrow Rest System and Method," Patent No. 6,978,775; WHISKER BISCUIT ARROW REST, Trademark Registration No. 2,501,255; and WHISKER BISCUIT, Trademark Registration No. 3,312,392, which have been issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Bear Archery is in the business of researching, developing, designing, manufacturing, and selling archery products. Its business includes traditional archery bows, compound bows, bow sights, arrow rests, arrows and arrow components, archery targets, and various other archery accessories. American Archery is in the business of selling hunting products and accessories, including archery products.

At issue in this Indiana intellectual property dispute are arrow rests for mounting to archery bows. The lawsuit asserts claims of patent infringement, trademark infringement, as well as false and deceptive labeling and unfair competition.

American Archery is accused of selling counterfeit arrow rests, both through its website and through online auction sites. Specifically, Bear Archery asserts that the "ready to shoot" packages offered by American Archery advertise that they include a genuine Bear Archery Whisker Biscuit® arrow rest as part of the preassembled bow. However, Plaintiffs state, the bow that a consumer receives instead includes a pre-installed counterfeit arrow rest.

There are two patents at issue in this litigation: "Arrow Rest," Patent No. RE38,096 (the "'096 patent") and "Arrow Rest System and Method," Patent No. 6,978,775 (the "'775 patent"). The '096 patent and the '775 patent (collectively "the patents-in-suit") are owned by SOP Services. Bear Archery has been granted an exclusive license to the patents-in-suit. Plaintiffs accuse American Archery of having willfully, intentionally and deliberately infringed the patents-in-suit by offering the allegedly counterfeit items.

In addition to patent infringement assertions, this Indiana litigation also includes allegations of trademark infringement. Bear Archery contends that it owns trademark rights for the Whisker Biscuit mark, indicating that it has used the mark with its arrow rest products since at least 1999. It claims that consumers have come to recognize the mark as identifying Bear Archery's arrow rest products. It further asserts that it owns a trademark on "Whisker Biscuit Arrow Rest" for archery equipment, namely arrow-rest devices. Bear Archery claims that American Archery's use of the marks is likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception as to origin, sponsorship or approval and therefore constitute trademark infringement and counterfeiting in violation of Section 32 and 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1114 et seq. and the common law.

Bear Archery includes a final claim of "false and deceptive labeling and unfair competition" under Lanham Act 15 U.S.C. §1125 and the common law.

Bear Archery, via its Indiana intellectual property lawyers, asks the court for the following relief:

A. A judgment of infringement of the '096 patent and the '775 patent;
B. A judgment that the use of the "WHISKER BISCUIT" mark in Defendant's commercial advertising and sales in the Unites States creates a likelihood of confusion, mistake, or deception among relevant consumers and therefore infringes Plaintiff's trademarks;
C. A judgment that Defendant has engaged in counterfeiting with respect to Plaintiffs' trademarks;
D. An order permanently restraining Defendant or any of its agents from further acts of infringement of the patents-in-suit;
E. An order permanently restraining Defendant or any of its agents from engaging in misleading advertising of products or services bearing or resembling the "WHISKER BISCUIT" mark that have caused actual confusion, mistake or deception of the public;
F. An order that all infringing devices or materials in the possession of, or subject to control by, Defendant or its agents be delivered up and destroyed or altered to eliminate any possibility any further infringement;
G. An award of damages not less than a reasonably royalty, adequate to compensate Plaintiffs for Defendant's acts of infringement under 35 U.S.C. §284;
H. An award to Plaintiffs of treble Defendant's profits under 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a) and (b);
I. An award to Plaintiffs of statutory damages for counterfeiting up to $2,000,000, pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1117(c);
J. An order declaring that this is an exceptional case pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 285 and 15 U.S.C. 1117 as a result of Defendant's knowing and willful infringement of the patents-in-suit and the asserted trademarks, and awarding Plaintiffs their attorneys' fees;
K. An award of Plaintiffs' costs, and/or expenses; and
L. Aw award of Defendant's wrongful profits associated with its infringement of Plaintiffs' patent and/or trademark rights.

Practice Tip: Bear Archery requested that eBay remove various auctions posted by Bear Archery on the grounds that the items for sale were counterfeit. Bear Archery indicates that eBay removed the auctions and notified American Archery that the auctions had been removed because they had been flagged as offering counterfeit goods. Bear Archery requested this under eBay's Verified Rights Owner ("VeRO") Program. The VeRO Program provides a mechanism for an owner of intellectual property to request the removal of eBay auctions that offer items that infringe that owner's intellectual property rights.

Continue reading "Indiana Patent and Trademark Litigation: American Archery Accused of Patent and Trademark Infringement" »

May 9, 2014

Indiana Trademark Litigation: Best Chairs Sues Factory Direct Wholesale for Trademark Infringement

Evansville, Indiana - Trademark attorneys for Best Chairs Incorporated of Ferdinand, IndianaBestchairsPicture2.jpg filed an intellectual property lawsuit for damages and injunctive relief in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Factory Direct Wholesale, LLC of Duluth, Georgia ("Factory Direct") infringed Trademark Registration Nos. 1,421,085; 2,871,238; 3,839,150 and 3,531,915, which have been issued by the U.S. Trademark Office.

Best Chairs has done business as a furniture company since 1962. It has used "Best Chairs" and similar marks in its corporate name, trade name, and trademarks. Best Chairs asserts ownership of several related trademarks, Trademark Registration Nos. 1,421,085; 2,871,238; 3,839,150 and 3,531,915, as well as several trademark applications.

Factory Direct, a competitor of Best Chairs which allegedly also does business as Cavalier Wholesale, ("Defendant") sells goods, including chairs and furniture products, nationwide. Best Chairs asserts that Defendant has infringed its intellectual property by using the designations BESTCHAIR and BEST CHAIR as trademarks for a line of furniture and that Defendant's use of these designations is without Best Chair's authorization.

Best Chairs contends that Defendants may have used the BESTCHAIR and BEST CHAIR designations as a trade name in the United States approximately four years ago. Roughly two years ago, Best Chairs alerted Amazon.com of an unauthorized use of the "BESTCHAIR" designation on its website by Cavalier Wholesale. Best Chairs states that discussions with Amazon.com appeared to resolve the issue of the unauthorized use of its intellectual property.

Beginning in January 2014, Best Chairs claims that it began to receive additional information regarding products labeled as "BESTCHAIR" or similar that were not Best Chairs' goods. Specifically, Best Chairs was notified by the Tri-State Better Business Bureau that a complaint had been lodged against Best Chairs for the sale of a defective chair. Best Chairs asserts that complaint, in fact, pertained to a chair that had been purchased from Defendant. In March 2014, Amazon contacted Best Chairs with a warranty inquiry that Best Chairs indicates pertained to a product sold by Defendant. Best Chairs asserts that these examples demonstrate actual confusion in the marketplace.

Best Chairs contends that Defendant's use of the BESTCHAIR and BEST CHAIR marks: has a substantial likelihood of causing confusion and mistake by consumers as to the source of Defendant's products; has a substantial likelihood of causing confusion and mistake by consumers as to the affiliation, connection, or association of Defendant with Best Chairs; and in addition to creating a likelihood of confusion, has caused actual confusion in the marketplace. Best Chairs asserts that Defendant's infringing conduct has been willful and intentional.

Trademark lawyers for Best Chairs have sued on the following theories:

• Count I: Federal Trademark Counterfeiting
• Count II: Trademark Infringement of Federally Registered Trademarks - 15 U.S.C. §1114
• Count III: Unfair Competition, False Advertising, False Designation of Origin and Infringement Under 15 U.S.C. §1125
• Count V [sic]: Unfair Competition Under Indiana State Law
• Count VI: Civil Action Under the Indiana Crime Victims Act
Best Chairs ask for injunctive relief; damages, including treble damages; costs, including attorneys' fees; an order directing the destruction or alteration of all materials found to infringe Best Chairs' intellectual property; and interest, including prejudgment interest.

Practice Tip: Indiana Code §§ 35-43-4-3 and 35-43-5-3(a)(6) are criminal statutes, claimed in the complaint in conjunction with an attempt to parlay the accusation into an award for damages, costs and attorneys' fees. The Indiana Court of Appeals has discussed "theft" and "conversion" as they pertain to takings of intellectual property in several recent cases (see, for example, here and here) and has made it clear that criminal statutes often apply differently to an unlawful taking of intellectual property.

Continue reading "Indiana Trademark Litigation: Best Chairs Sues Factory Direct Wholesale for Trademark Infringement" »

March 31, 2014

Indiana Trademark Litigation: Agler Sues Westheimer Over Use of Stratotone Mark

Fort Wayne, Indiana - Indiana trademark attorneys for Darryl Agler, doing business as The Stratotone Guitar Company of Fort Wayne, Indiana, filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Westheimer Corporation of Northbrook, Illinois infringed the trademarkguitarpicture.bmp "STRATOTONE" (the "Stratotone mark"), Trademark Registration No. 3,986,754 which has been issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO"). Counterfeiting, unfair competition, and false designation of origin arising under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1051 et seq., and the statutes and common law of the State of Indiana have also been alleged.

Agler custom manufactures guitars and sells them across the United States. Each of Agler's guitars is hand crafted from the wood of a customer's choosing and features vintage hardware. Agler currently accepts orders for his guitars on his website at www.stratotoneguitar.com. He also displays and sells his guitars, which sell at retail for $1,250 or more, at vintage guitar shows across the nation. Angler asserts that, since at least as early as January of 2007, his marketing and promotions in connection with his guitars have included the Stratotone Mark.

Agler claims a right to exclude others' use of the "Stratotone" mark in connection with guitars based on, inter alia, ownership of trademark rights to the mark "Stratotone" conferred by U.S. Reg. No. 3,986,754 ("'754 Registration"). The '754 Registration was issued by the USPTO in 2011 as a result of a 2006 application for the Stratotone mark in association with "musical instruments, namely, guitars."

According to the complaint, at the National Association of Music Merchants ("NAMM") show in 2010, Westheimer offered and sold cheaper guitars using the Stratatone mark. Agler states that he spoke to Westheimer personnel twice at this show, notifying them that Westheimer's products were infringing the Stratotone mark. Agler alleges that he was unable to sell any of his guitars at the NAMM show that year.

Agler indicates that, since the 2010 NAMM show, Westheimer has flooded the market with lower quality, cheaper guitars that bear the Stratotone mark. These guitars retail between $199.00 and $399.00. Agler contends that Westheimer's "Stratotone" guitars have destroyed the market for Agler's more expensive Stratotone guitars.

On April 25, 2013, Westheimer filed a petition to cancel the '754 Registration (the "Cancellation Petition") with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. The Cancellation Petition is currently pending.

In the complaint, filed by Indiana intellectual property lawyers for Agler, the following counts are alleged:

• Count I: Federal Unfair Competition and False Designation of Origin
• Count II: Federal Trademark Infringement
• Count III: Federal Trademark Counterfeiting
• Count IV: Common Law Unfair Competition and Trademark Infringement
• Count V: Unjust Enrichment
• Count VI: Conversion
• Count VII: Deception
• Count VIII: Indiana Crime Victim's Relief Act

Agler asks the court for injunctive relief; an accounting of damages; the surrender by Westheimer of items featuring the Stratotone mark; damages, including treble damages; and attorney's fees.

Practice Tip: Indiana Code §§ 35-43-4-3 and 35-43-5-3(a)(6) are criminal statutes, claimed in the complaint in conjunction with an attempt to parlay the accusation into an award for damages, costs and attorneys' fees. The Indiana Court of Appeals has discussed "theft" and "conversion" as they pertain to takings of intellectual property in several recent cases (see, for example, here and here) and has made it clear that criminal statutes often apply differently to an unlawful taking of intellectual property.

Continue reading "Indiana Trademark Litigation: Agler Sues Westheimer Over Use of Stratotone Mark" »

February 10, 2014

Swag Merchandising and Musical Group Devo Sue for Trademark Infringement

Indianapolis, Indiana - An Indiana trademark attorney for Swag Merchandising, Inc. and DEVO-picture2.bmpDevo Inc., both of California, sued in Hamilton Superior Court alleging that Your Fantasy Warehouse, Inc. d/b/a T.V. Store Online and Fred Hajjar, both of Commerce Township, Michigan, infringed Devo's Trademarks, Registration Nos. 3161662 and 3167516, which have been registered by the U.S. Trademark Office. The case has been removed from Indiana state court to the Southern District of Indiana.

Swag claims that it owns the exclusive right to license the various trademarks, copyrights and individual and collective rights of publicity of the musical group Devo. The group is best known for the song "Whip It," which hit number 14 on the Billboard chart in 1980. Swag indicates that it licenses the Devo intellectual property to third parties around the globe.

T.V. Store Online is in the business of manufacturing, marketing and distributing apparel and memorabilia featuring classic and current television programming, movies and/or music. T.V. Store Online and Hajjar have been accused of manufacturing, producing, marketing, advertising and/or retailing a product known as "Energy Dome Hats." Plaintiffs assert that these Energy Dome Hats are commonly associated with Devo but have not been licensed by Plaintiffs to Defendants. Plaintiffs further claim that consumers coming into contact with Defendants' product would "immediately recognize the same as being associated with, sponsored by and/or endorsed by" the '80s group.

In the complaint, filed by an Indiana trademark attorney, Plaintiffs assert the following:

• I: Violation of 15 U.S.C. §1125(a) of the Lanham Act
• II: Trademark Infringement - 15 U.S.C. §1114 and Common Law
• III: Counterfeiting
• IV: Dilution - 15 U.S.C. §1125(c) and New York General Business Law §360-1
• V: Common Law Unfair Competition
• VI: Statutory Right of Publicity [NB: under Indiana law]
• VII: Right of Publicity Infringement Under California Civil Code §3344
• VIII: Common Law Right of Publicity
• IX: Conversion [NB: under Indiana law]
• X: Deception [NB: under Indiana law]
• XI: Indiana Crime Victims Act

Plaintiffs ask for an injunction; the surrender of infringing materials; damages, including treble damages; costs and fees. An Indiana intellectual property lawyer for Defendants removed the case to federal court, although he noted that the removal was not a concession that the Southern District of Indiana was the proper venue for the California Plaintiffs or the Michigan Defendants.

Practice Tip:

This is at least the third case filed by Theodore Minch about which we have blogged. In at least two prior cases, LeeWay Media Group, LLC v. Laurence Joachim et al. and Leon Isaac Kennedy v. GoDaddy et al., Mr. Minch has filed in an Indiana court despite none of the parties having any connection to Indiana.

It can be surmised that perhaps the choice of Indiana as a forum might have been driven by an attempt to increase damages. I.C. §§ 35-43-4-3 and 35-43-5-3(a)(6) are criminal statutes, claimed in the complaint in conjunction with an attempt to parlay the accusation into an award for damages, costs and attorneys' fees. The Indiana Court of Appeals has discussed "theft" and "conversion" as they pertain to takings of intellectual property in several recent cases (see, for example, here and here) and has made it clear that criminal statutes often apply differently to an unlawful taking of intellectual property.

Continue reading "Swag Merchandising and Musical Group Devo Sue for Trademark Infringement" »

December 5, 2012

Indiana Court Grants Coach, Inc. Summary Judgment In Trademark and Copyright Infringement Case

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.

Continue reading "Indiana Court Grants Coach, Inc. Summary Judgment In Trademark and Copyright Infringement Case" »

June 27, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear Copyright Case over Gray Market Goods

Washington, D.C.: The Supreme Court has recently decided to hear a case that could reconcile two competing sections within The Copyright Act--section 602(a)(1) which prohibits the importation of a work without the authority of the owner and section 109(a) which allows copyrighted works to be sold without the copyright owner's permission--which will determine the applicability of foreign copyright owners' control of the sale and distribution of their work.

On April 16, 2012 the Supreme Court Granted cert in the case of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons in an attempt to resolve the issue of the copyright protections of gray market goods. Reuters.com reports that Kirtsaeng, a graduate student at The University of Southern California, is from Thailand and had his family purchase textbooks cheaply overseas and then shipped to him. He then resold them on eBay for a profit, in order to make money for school. According to Kirtsaeng's petition for cert, he claims to have researched the Copyright Law including the Doctrine of First Sale, section 109(a), and felt that it was applicable to him. However, John Wiley & Sons, whose Asian subsidiary produced some of the books sold, SCT.bmpdisagreed with the interpretation and filed an infringement suit in 2008. Although Kirtsaeng profited $37,000 from the Sale of books produced by John Wiley & Sons, a jury found him liable of infringement and imposed damages of $600,000.

According to SCOTUSblog.com, the 2nd Circuit upheld the ruling, stating that the Doctrine of First Sale only applies to U.S. made goods. In their ruling, the 2nd circuit applied the Costco Wholesale Corp. v. Costco case, in which the court split 4-4 in its decision to apply the Doctrine of First Sale to U.S. made goods sold by businesses, and extended its reach to individuals as well. When the Supreme Court hears Kirtsaeng's case, it will seek to resolve the discrepancy in the Copyright Law and the issue of whether the Copyright Law applies to a copy that was made and legally acquired abroad and then imported into the United States, SCOUTUSblog.com reports. According to supremecourt.gov, the time for the parties to file their briefs on the merits has been extended until August 31, 2012. The case will be heard next term, reports abajournal.com.

Continue reading "U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear Copyright Case over Gray Market Goods" »

April 20, 2012

Microsoft Corporation Sues D & A LLC for Copyright and Trademark Infringement Unauthorized Installations of Windows XP

Indianapolis; IN - Trademark and copyright attorneys for Microsoft Corporation of Redmond, Washington filed a copyright and trademark infringement suit in alleging D & A LLC d/b/a/ Asset Recovery and Recycling and David B. Bell of Indianapolis, Indiana infringed trademarks 1256083, 1200236, 1872264 and 2744843 registered by the US Trademark Office. The complaint also makes copyright infringement, false designation of origin, false description and representation, and unfair competition.

The complaint alleges that D&A markets, sells, and distributes computer hardware and software, including Microsoft products. The complaint states that D&A sells computers, which it advertises have Microsoft software pre-installed. Microsoft alleges that the Microsoft software on the computers D&A sells are infringing copies. The complaint states that a Microsoft investigator purchased computers with unauthorized copies of Windows XP from D&A on three occasions in 2011. The unlicensed software contains Microsoft trademarksmicrosoft.bmp and copyrighted works. Microsoft is seeking a declaration of infringement, an injunction, an accounting, an order impounding counterfeit copies of Microsoft software, damages, costs and attorney fees.

Practice Tip: Microsoft has named David Bell personally, the owner of D & B, as a defendant, alleging that he participated in and had a right to control the wrongful conduct. A corporate officer, director or shareholder is, as a general matter, personally liable for all torts which she authorizes or directs or in which she participates, even if she acted as an agent of the corporation and not on her own behalf.

Continue reading "Microsoft Corporation Sues D & A LLC for Copyright and Trademark Infringement Unauthorized Installations of Windows XP" »

April 11, 2012

JacobsParts, Inc. Sues United Integral, Inc. for Trademark Infringement In Sale of Phone Assessories On Amazon

Indianapolis; IN - Trademark attorneys for JacobsParts, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana filed a trademark infringement suit in alleging United Integral, Inc. of Temple City, California infringed trademark registration nos. 85405544,85567855,7725369 and 85575355 for the marks JPQuality and JacobsParts, which have been issued by the US Trademark Office.

The complaint states that JacobsParts sells computer and office supplies and that a vast majority of its sales are through amazon.com. United Integral is alleged to also sell computer and office supplies through amazon.com. The complaint alleges that at an unknown time, United began describing itself on amazon as selling products bearing the JPQualityjacobsparts.bmp and JacobsParts marks. The complaint alleges United claims to offer these trademarked goods at lower prices than JacobsParts does. The complaint states that United's unfair practices result in its products being listed first when customers are searching for the specific parts on amazon. It further alleges that United then sends customers generic and non-trademarked parts, which are lower quality, in an attempt to "pass off" its products. JacobsParts has included a list of the allegedly infringing products, which consists mainly of mobile phone cases, styluses, chargers and cables. The complaint seeks a declaration of infringement, an injunction, actual and treble damages, costs and attorney fees.

Practice Tip: The complaint makes only a bare-bones allegation of facts that would establish personal jurisdiction over Defendant United Integral in Indiana, "as a result of business regularly conducted by the Defendant within the State of Indiana." Despite the allegation that United Integral sells products on "Amazon.com," apparently JacobsParts did not make a purchase and have it shipped to Indiana before filing a complaint. Making such a purchase before filing a suit increases the chances of obtaining personal jurisdiction in Indiana.

Continue reading "JacobsParts, Inc. Sues United Integral, Inc. for Trademark Infringement In Sale of Phone Assessories On Amazon" »

March 20, 2012

Southern District Grants Summary Judgment for Coach in Trademark Infringement Case Over Knock-Offs

Indianapolis; IN - The Southern District of Indiana has issued a partial summary judgment in favor of Coach, Inc. and finding that Teresa Barnes, the owner of a Muncie store, had committed trademark infringement and counterfeiting for the sale of knock-off Coach goods.

In April 2011, trademark attorneys for Coach, Inc. and Coach Services, Inc. of New York, New York,Thumbnail image for Coach.bmp had filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Chaos of Muncie, Chaos on Campus, LLC and Teresa Barnes of Muncie, Indiana have been offering for sale and advertising Coach knock-off products. The complaint alleged that in February 2011, the store was offering for sale fifty-five Coach knock-off items including flip-flops, handbags, wallets, and sunglasses. The complaint made claims of trademark counterfeiting, trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, false designation of origin, false advertising, trademark dilution, copyright infringement, common law trademark infringement, common law unfair competition, forgery, and counterfeiting. We blogged about the case here.

In the court's decision granting summary judgment, it noted that Coach had requested summary judgment and Ms. Barnes had failed to reply. The court then reviewed the elements of trademark infringement and counterfeiting, found there was no factual dispute and found that the Coach should be granted summary judgment on the issue of liability. The court has ordered Coach to submit evidence on its damages.

Practice Tip: As the court noted, "A corporate officer, director or shareholder is, as a general matter, personally liable for all torts which she authorizes or directs or in which she participates, even if she acted as an agent of the corporation and not on her own behalf." The court also noted that "an officer of a corporation can be personally liable for trademark infringement if the officer is a moving, active conscious force behind the defendant corporation's infringement." Citing Bambu Sales, Inc. v. Sultana Crackers, Inc., 683 F.Supp. 899, 913-14 (E.D.N.Y.1988). In this case, the court held that Ms. Barnes is personally liable because she was the sole owner of Chaos and managed all of the store's business decisions.

Continue reading "Southern District Grants Summary Judgment for Coach in Trademark Infringement Case Over Knock-Offs " »

February 7, 2012

Counterfeit Super Bowl Goods Lead to Federal Seizure and Arrest for Criminal Trademark and Copyright Infringement

Indianapolis, IN - Federal authorities, led by the Homeland Security Investigations division of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have seized counterfeit Super Bowl goods, shut down websites and made one arrest in a targeted effort to crack down on counterfeit sports goods and websites. According to a government press release, federal authorities seized fake jerseys, caps, t-shirts and other souvenirs illegally bearing NFL and other sports trademarks, trade names and copyrights.SuperBowl46.bmp According to the press release, the operation has been ongoing since October 2011 and culminated in the raids and arrest on Thursday, February 2. The total value of the goods seized was reported to be $4.8 million.

Indianapolis Metro Police Department also participated in the operation, which focused on street vendors in and around the Indianapolis Super Bowl village as well as counterfeit sellers around the world. According to a news report, a store called Off the Wall in Fort Wayne was one of the stores raided by federal agents.

The operation, dubbed Operation Fake Sweep, also targeted websites that illegally stream sports events and sell counterfeit goods. Over 300 websites were shut down. Yonjo Quiroa of Michigan was the sole person arrested. He has been charged with criminal copyright infringement based on his alleged operation of websites that illegally streamed live sporting events. According to news report, many of the websites selling counterfeit goods were from.

Practice Tip: On a related note, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported that the NFL had obtained a temporary restraining order in Marion County Superior Court that allows the NFL to seize counterfeit goods without notice. The report notes the NFL has over 20 registered trademarks such as Super Bowl, SB46, team logos and the Vince Lombardi Trophy design. IBJ has quoted Judge Cynthia Ayers as writing ""Plaintiffs have shown that notice need not be given because vendors and manufacturers of counterfeit NFL merchandise have no business identity and cannot be identified, located or notified ... and if so notified would flee with the counterfeit merchandise."
January 10, 2012

Coach Sues Kristy Davidson for Trademark and Copyright Infringement of the Coach Marks

Indianapolis; IN - Trademark lawyers for Coach Inc. of New York, New York filed a trademark and copyright infringement suit in the Southern District of Indianaalleging Kristy Davidson d/b/a Kristy's Trends of Greenfield, Indiana infringed the Coach'sCoach.bmp registered trademarks and copyrights, including the copyrighted works known as the "Coach Design Elements" including the SIGNATURE C DESIGNS, Registration No. VAu1-046658, COACH 70th ANNIVERSARY SNAPHEAD PRINT Registration No. VA1-010-918, and COACH CLOVER DESIGN, which have been registered by the US Copyright Office, and approximately fifty trademarks that have been registered by the US Trademark Office.

The complaint alleges that Ms. Davidson is designed, distributed, sold, promoted and offered for sale products that bear the Coach marks and copyrights without authorization from Coach. Essentially, Coach claims the Ms. Davidson is offering counterfeit Coach products for sale. The complaint alleges that on November 7, 2011, a Coach Representative visited Kristy's Trends in Greenfield, Indiana and purchased a handbag bearing the Coach marks, but that was not an authentic Coach handbag. The complaint alleges that the representative saw 20 additional handbags, six wallets, and a pair of boots bearing the Coach marks that was offered for sale. The complaint states that Coach's trademark attorneys sent a cease and desist letter to Ms. Davidson thereafter. In response, Ms. Davidson surrendered handbags, wallets, sunglasses and boots bearing the Coach marks.

The complaint makes claims of copyright infringement, trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, false designation of origin, false advertising, trademark dilution, unfair competition, forgery and counterfeiting. Coach seeks an injunction, damages of $2,000,000 per counterfeit mark, actual and punitive damages, costs and attorney fees.

Practice Tip: Coach has been very aggressive in protecting its intellectual property rights in Indiana courts in the last year. Coach's intellectual property attorneys have filed eight similar lawsuits in Indiana courts, which Indiana Intellectual Property Law and News has blogged and that are linked below.

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December 23, 2011

Northern District Grants Default Judgment and Damages of Over $113,000 in favor of Century 21 in Trademark Infringement Case

Lafayette, IN - The Northern District of Indiana granted a default judgment, damages and a permanent injunction in a trademark infringement case involving a hold-over franchisee. Century 21 Real Estate, LLC Century 21 Logo.JPGof Parsippany, New Jersey had filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Destiny Real Estate Properties LLC, f/d/b/a Century 21 Destiny Real Estate and Daniel Sutton of Lowell, Indiana infringed Century 21's trademarks and service marks. Indiana Intellectual Property Law and News blogged about the case when it was filed. The defendants failed to file any response to the Century 21's complaint. After finding that the defendants had been properly served, the court granted Century 21's motion for a judgment by default.

The Court analyzed a legal question that has not yet been examined by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and that different federal circuit courts have reached different results: "whether a hold-over franchisee's continued unauthorized use of a franchisor's mark constitutes counterfeiting[?]" The court found that the defendants use to Century 21's mark was counterfeiting in this case and noted "The Court can conceive of no reason why an ex-franchisee should escape liability for counterfeiting simply because that person had access to franchise's original marks because of the former relationship[.]" The court then analyzed the damages claims of Century 21 and awarded $113,656 plus attorneys fees of $5,419 and costs of $595 to Century 21. The Court also granted Century's 21's request for a permanent restraining order that prevents the defendants from using the Century 21 marks.

Practice Tip: Since the Court found that the defendant's trademark infringement was counterfeiting, treble damages were available to Century 21. This case explains how intellectual property rights are generally well protected in statutory damages provisions and explains how the trebling of damages, ability to recover a defendant's "profits" and recovery of attorney fees can lead to significant recoveries, even without the intellectual property owner having to prove "actual" damages.

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December 14, 2011

Coach, Inc. Files Federal Trademark and Copyright Infringement Lawsuits Against The Treasure Box, Inc. for Infringements of Merchandise.

South Bend, IN - Trademark lawyers for Coach, Inc. of New York, New York filed a trademark and copyright infringement suit in the Northern District of Indianaalleging The Treasure Box, Inc. of Elkhart, Indiana infringed the Coach's registered trademarks and copyrights, including the copyrighted works known as the "Coach Design Elements" Coach.bmpincluding the SIGNATURE C DESIGNS, Registration No. VAu1-046658, COACH 70th ANNIVERSARY SNAPHEAD PRINT AND Registration No. VA1-010-918, COACH CLOVER DESIGN, which have been registered by the US Copyright Office, and approximately fifty trademarks that have been registered by the US Trademark Office.

The complaint alleges that the Treasure Box has advertised, sold, or offered for sale handbags, wallets, key chains, earrings and sunglasses bearing the Coach marks without authorization from Coach. The complaint states that on October 25, 2011, a Coach representative visited The Treasure Box store in Elkhart, Indiana and purchased a handbag, wallet and key chain bearing the Coach marks.. The representative also saw 25-30 additional items for sale in the store that bore the Coach marks, all of which were counterfeit items. The complaint makes claims of copyright infringement, trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, false designation of origin, false advertising, trademark dilution, unfair competition, forgery and counterfeiting. Coach seeks an injunction, damages of $2,000,000 per counterfeit mark, actual and punitive damages, costs and attorney fees.

Practice Tip: Coach's latest compliant is very similar to several others it has recently filed in Indiana, which Indiana Intellectual Property Law and News has blogged and that are linked below.

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December 2, 2011

SoftMaker and SEG Sue Third Scroll Copyright and Trademark Infringements of Computer Software Products.

Indianapolis, IN - A trademark and copyright infringement case filed in the Southern District of California has been transferred to the Southern District of Indiana. Intellectual property attorneys for SoftMaker and SEG, both of Nuremberg, Germany have filed a trademark and copyright infringement suit in the Southern District of California alleging that Third Scroll of Indianapolis, Indiana infringed trademark registration no. 3,051,159 for the mark SOFTMAKERSoftmaker.bmp and trademark registration no. 3,104,173 for the mark TEXTMAKER registered by the US Trademark Office. The case was transferred to the Southern District of Indiana on November 29.

The plaintiffs are software development companies. The complaint states the suit is based on the defendant's production, importation and sale of hacked copies of the plaintiff's software bearing the plaintiff's trademarks. The complaint alleges that the defendants offered pirated copies of the plaintiff's software online, including the programs Textmaker®, Planmaker®, and Softmaker Presentations®. The plaintiff states that its software is protected by U.S. copyright laws and international treaties recognizing copyrights. The copyrighted software also bears the plaintiff's trademarks. The complaint makes claims of copyright infringement, "circumvention of copyright protection measures," trademark infringement and counterfeiting, false designation of origin, and unfair competition.

Practice Tip: This case was originally filed in the Southern District of California. The only allegation of a connection to California in the complaint is that defendant's website was accessible there. The defendant succeeded in getting the case transferred to Indiana, the domicile of the defendant company.

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