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October 15, 2014

Indiana Copyright and Trademark Litigation: Edible Arrangements Sues Edible Creations and Owner

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Fort Wayne, Indiana - An Indiana trademark attorney for Edible Arrangements, LLC ("EA") and Edible Arrangements International, LLC ("EAI") of Wallingford, Connecticut filed an intellectual property complaint in the Northern District of Indiana alleging trademark and copyright infringement by Tom Drummond and Edible Creations, LLC ("EC") of Allen County, Indiana. Defendants are accused of infringing several trademarks (below), which have been issued by the U.S. Trademark Office, as well as a copyrighted work.

Since 1998, EAI has been using the phrase "Edible Arrangements," together with various related design marks, in connection with various food products. Its products include fruit cut to look like flowers as well as other fruit products. EAI operates a franchise network of over 1,200 independent owner-operated franchise locations throughout the United States and internationally. It sublicenses the trademarks at issue in this Indiana litigation to its franchisees.

The other Plaintiff, EA, owns the following trademarks relating to "Edible" and "Edible Arrangements":  

In August 2013, Defendants Edible Creations and the company's owner, Tom Drummond, Filed an application for what Plaintiffs content is a mark that is confusingly similar to one or more of EA's trademarks:  

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In September 2013, Plaintiffs sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding that Edible Creations cease using the mark. It later filed an opposition before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ("TTAB") challenging the registration on the grounds of deceptiveness, false suggestion of a connection between Edible Creations and EA, likelihood of confusion, dilution, misdescriptiveness and fraud. Edible Creations did not respond to EA's opposition and the TTAB entered a default against Edible Creations and refused to register Edible Creations' mark.In August 2013, Defendants Edible Creations and the company's owner, Tom Drummond, filed an application for what Plaintiffs contend is a mark that is confusingly similar to one or more of EA's trademarks:

In this lawsuit, Defendants have been accused of continuing to advertise, promote and sell fruit arrangements in Indiana using the phrase "Edible Creations" and "Edible Creations Creator of Edible Floral Arrangements." They have also been accused of violating EA's copyright in a sculpture known as the "Hearts and Berries Fruit Design" by displaying the copyrighted design in print, including on vehicles, and on the internet.

In its complaint, filed by an Indiana trademark and copyright lawyer, Plaintiffs list the following claims:

  • Trademark Infringement
  • False Designation of Origin
    • Trademark Dilution
    • By Blurring
  • By Tarnishment
  • Copyright Infringement
  • Unfair Competition

Plaintiffs seek damages, including punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.

Practice Tip

Allegations of trademark dilution involve a different analysis from claims of trademark infringement. The first type of trademark dilution is dilution by blurring. An allegation of dilution by blurring requires that the plaintiff prove, among other things, that its mark is "famous." This is not an easy burden, requiring that the mark have "extensive public recognition and renown" within the population of average consumers. There are some marks, such as Chanel, Coke and Microsoft, for which establishing such renown is likely achievable. However, this bar is extremely high. Even trademarks that are very well known, such as Coach, which has been used since 1961 and under which several billion dollars of sales are made annually, have been found to be "not famous" for the purposes of a dilution analysis. Edible Arrangements will have a difficult time proving this claim.

The second type of trademark dilution is dilution by tarnishment. Edible Arrangements will also have a difficult time establishing the elements of this type of trademark dilution. This cause of action is generally brought when the reputation of a well-known mark is harmed by another's use of that trademark or a similar mark within a sexual context. For example, in Kraft Foods Holdings, Inc. v. Helm, 205 F. Supp. 2d 942, 949-50 (N.D. Ill. 2002), the court held that the use of the term "VelVeeda" by a pornographic website tarnished the trademark held by the makers of Velveeta cheese. Courts may also find dilution by tarnishment where a defendant offers inferior products or services. It is unclear that Plaintiffs here have alleged facts sufficient to support a claim of tarnishment.

Continue reading "Indiana Copyright and Trademark Litigation: Edible Arrangements Sues Edible Creations and Owner " »

October 1, 2014

Indiana Trademark Litigation: KM Innovations Sues LTD Commodities

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Indianapolis, Indiana - An Indiana trademark attorney for KM Innovations LLC of New Castle, Indiana ("KM") sued in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that LTD Commodities LLC of Bannockburn, Illinois ("LTD") infringed the trademarked "INDOOR SNOWBALL FIGHT", Trademark Registration No. 4,425,111 which has been issued by the U.S. Trademark Office.

KM sells synthetic "snowballs" for use in indoor "snowball fights." It contends that it uses two distinct trademarks to market and sell these synthetic snowballs: "SNOWTIME anytime!" and INDOOR SNOWBALL FIGHT. KM has also sought patent protection for its indoor snowballs.

The SNOWTIME anytime!/"indoor snowball fight" concept was conceived in December 2012. At a party, several parents realized that a market might exist for "indoor snowballs," which would enable children to have a "snowball fight" but without the usual requirements of snow or being outside. KM later introduced a product based on this idea.

In this Indiana trademark complaint, KM asserts that an item called an "Indoor Snowball Fight Set" is being offered and sold on by LTD on the LTD website. The retail price of the product offered by LTD is $9.95 per 12 synthetic balls, while an allegedly similar product is offered and sold by KM for somewhat more, with a retail price of about $1 per synthetic snowball.

KM contends that, by using the name "Indoor Snowball Fight Set," LTD has deliberately misappropriated KM's trademark rights. It claims that the use by LTD of this name demonstrates a wrongful attempt by LTD to utilize the goodwill associated with the KM synthetic-snowball product. KM also claims that LTD's product is inferior and that, as a result, KM's reputation will be damaged when consumers are confused into believing that KM is associated with LTD's "Indoor Snowball Fight Set."

In its complaint, filed by an Indiana trademark lawyer, KM claims the following:

• Count I: Infringement of Federal Trademark Registration No. 4,425,111
• Count II: False Designation of Origin/Unfair Competition - 35 U.S.C. § 1125(a)

KM asks the court for a judgment of trademark infringement and unfair competition. It requests that the court award damages, including treble damages; order the surrender of any infringing materials; prohibit the use of "Indoor Snowball Fight" by LTD and its agents; and award to KM its costs and attorneys' fees.

Practice Tip #1: While not included as a separate count, KM did allege trademark dilution in paragraph 24 of the complaint. This cause of action is distinct from trademark infringement and applies to trademarks that are deemed to be famous. An action for dilution can assert either, or both, of two principal harms: blurring and tarnishment. Dilution by blurring, codified in 15 U.S.C. 1125(c)(2)(B), arises when association with another similar mark causes the distinctiveness of the famous mark to be compromised. In contrast, dilution by tarnishment under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c)(2)(C) happens when the reputation of the famous mark is damaged by association with a similar mark.

Practice Tip #2: KM, no stranger to intellectual property litigation, has previously sued in Indiana federal court alleging trade dress infringement of the packaging for its synthetic snowballs.

Continue reading "Indiana Trademark Litigation: KM Innovations Sues LTD Commodities" »

August 27, 2014

Indiana Trademark Litigation: Owner of JOIN® Sues Owner of JOIN.ME®

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Indianapolis, Indiana - An Indiana trademark attorney for Sensory Technologies, LLC of Indianapolis, Indiana ("Sensory") sued in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that LogMeIn, Inc. of Boston, Massachusetts infringed the trademark "JOIN", Trademark Registration No. 3622883, which was issued by the U.S. Trademark Office. This Indiana trademark lawsuit, filed under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §1114(a), 15 U.S.C. §1125(a) and 15 U.S.C. §1117(c), as well as the common law of Indiana, seeks the following: injunctive relief, a declaratory judgment and damages.

Plaintiff Sensory offers JOIN-branded virtual meeting/video-conference services. The services connect audio, video and web technologies in virtual meeting rooms and include videoconferencing, content sharing and collaboration. Sensory estimates that more than 15,000 users participated in JOIN-enabled conferences in the first six months of 2014. It owns the trademark JOIN in connection with "teleconferencing and video conferencing services."

Defendant LogMeIn is a provider of SaaS and cloud-based remote-connection services. It operates the website join.me, where it offers instant screen sharing, unlimited audio and recording. Up to 250 people may participate in a join.me meeting.

LogMeIn owns three Trademark Registration Nos. 3995301, 3995300 and 4036263 for "JOIN.ME", including two text-with-graphic marks and one text-only mark. These three trademarks are registered in connection with "providing online, non-downloadable software for web-based screen sharing that allows simultaneous and asynchronous viewing, remote control of a computer, document sharing, file transferring, instant messaging and audio conferencing."

This trademark lawsuit pertains to LogMeIn's use of its JOIN.ME trademark in connection with videoconferencing services, which Sensory contends is infringing. Specifically, Sensory asserts that it holds superior rights to JOIN, as its first use of the JOIN trademark in connection with videoconferencing services was on or before March 26, 2008. Sensory claims that, in addition to being inherently distinctive, its JOIN trademark has acquired significant secondary meaning. Sensory states that the federally registered JOIN.ME trademarks owned by LogMeIn are confusingly similar, both visually and phonetically, to Sensory's mark.

LogMeIn is accused of willfully and intentionally using its JOIN.ME trademarks without Sensory's authorization. Sensory contends that LogMeIn's use of the JOIN.ME trademarks is a deliberate attempt to trade on Sensory's goodwill in the JOIN trademark. It states that LogMeIn intended to cause confusion between its registered JOIN.ME trademark and Sensory's registered JOIN trademark.

In the complaint, filed by an Indiana trademark lawyer, the following counts are listed:

• Count I: Trademark Infringement - 15 U.S.C. § 1114
• Count II: False Designation of Origin - 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)
• Count III: Common Law Trademark Infringement
• Count IV: Unfair Competition
• Count V: Forgery: Indiana Crime Victims Act - IC § 35-43-5-2
• Count VI: Declaratory Judgment of Trademark Invalidity
• Count VIII [sic]: Permanent Injunctive Relief

Sensory seeks a declaratory judgment that LogMeIn infringed Sensory's JOIN trademark under 15 U.S.C. § 1114, engaged in false designation of origin under § 1125(a) and engaged in unfair competition. Sensory also asks the court to enjoin LogMeIn from infringing on the JOIN trademark, representing in any way that the two companies are related, registering any domain name that includes the JOIN trademark, or otherwise using the JOIN trademark. Finally, Sensory seeks the transfer of all of LogMeIn's domain names that incorporate the JOIN trademark, damages under 15 U.S.C. § 1117 including actual damages, statutory damages, LogMeIn's profits, treble damages, costs related to the suit, attorneys' fees and for corrective advertising.

Practice Tip:

Because the Lanham Act does not contain a statute of limitations, federal courts refer to analogous state statutes of limitations to determine whether an infringement claim has been timely filed. Hot Wax Inc. v. Turtle Wax Inc., 191 F.3d 813 (7th Cir. 1999). This time bar applies both to claims for damages and to those sounding in equity. Id. at 822. A trademark is personal property, so Indiana's analogous state statute is I.C. 34-11-2-4(a), which provides for a two-year statute of limitations:

"Sec. 4. (a) An action for . . . (2) injury to personal property . . . must be commenced within two (2) years after the cause of action accrues."

LogMeIn's Trademark Registration No. 4,036,263 for JOIN.ME alleges a "first use" date of July 23, 2010. This would appear to provide laches / "statute of limitations" defense to Sensory's trademark infringement claims.

Continue reading "Indiana Trademark Litigation: Owner of JOIN® Sues Owner of JOIN.ME®" »

August 7, 2014

Indiana Trademark Litigation: Rieke Corporation Sues Riekes Packaging Corporation for Trademark Infringement

Fort Wayne, Indiana - An Indiana trademark attorney for Rieke Corporation d/b/a Rieke Packaging Systems of Auburn, Indiana sued in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Riekes Packaging Corporation of Nebraska infringed the trademark Rieke Packaging Systems®, Trademark No. 2742836, which has been registered by the U.S. Trademark Office.

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Plaintiff Rieke Corporation states that it is one of the largest manufacturers of packaging components in the world. Its product line includes pumps, foamers, and sprayers for household dispensers as well as plastic and steel closures, caps, drum and pail enclosures, rings and levers for the industrial market. These products are used to store, transport, process and dispense various products in the agricultural, beverage, food, household products, industrial, medical, nutraceutical, personal care and pharmaceutical markets.

Plaintiff asserts that it has spent a considerable amount of money establishing the "Rieke Packaging Systems" trade name and trademark in the minds of customers as a source of high-quality and reliable packaging dispensers and closures. It claims that the trade name and trademark have become associated in the minds of purchasers with Plaintiff as "one of the largest and most reputable manufacturers and distributors of high quality and reliable packaging dispensers and closures in the world."

Defendant Riekes Packaging Corporation has been manufacturing and selling packaging components since the corporation's formation in 2012, according to Plaintiff. Rieke Corporation indicates that the "Riekes Packaging Corporation" name is shown on Defendant's glass bottles, plastic bottles, plastic closures, caps, metal closures, dispensing closures and systems, tubes and other similar goods.

In this Indiana trademark lawsuit, Rieke Corporation accuses Riekes Packaging Corporation of knowing, deliberate, and intentional violations of Plaintiff's trademark rights, stating Defendant's use of the "Riekes Packaging Corporation" trade name or trademark with or on its products is likely to cause confusion in the marketplace regarding whether there is an association between Plaintiff and Defendant and as to the source or origin of Defendant's goods. In their complaint, filed by an Indiana trademark lawyer, Plaintiff lists the following counts:   

  • Count I-rademark Infringement under the Lanham Act
  • Count II-Unfair Competition under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act
  • Count III-Common Law Trademark Infringement and Unfair Competition

 Rieke Corporation asks the court to:

     • enjoin Defendant and its agents from using "Riekes Packaging Corporation" as business name; in connection with sales or other commercial activities; or in a way that would be likely to lead others to believe that Defendant or its products were connected with Plaintiff; 

     • enjoin Defendant from engaging in any other activity that would constitute unfair               competition; 

     • direct Defendant to recall infringing materials; 

     • declare that Defendant's use of "Riekes Packaging Corporation" in connection with the   sale of packaging products and components constitutes trademark infringement under the Lanham Act and the common law of the state of Indiana; 

    • direct that Defendant cancel or otherwise modify any trademark applications containing the "Riekes Packaging Corporation" name; and

    • award to Rieke Corporation damages, including enhanced damages, costs and attorney's fees.

Practice Tip: Under U.S. trademark law, trademarks that are primarily surnames, or which consist of a surname and other material that is not registrable as a trademark, are treated the same as descriptive trademarks. Thus, the trademark will not be protected as intellectual property until it has achieved secondary meaning through advertising and/or use over an extended period of time. Once that surname has acquired secondary meaning, it may be protectable as a trademark and others can be prevented from using the trademark on confusingly similar goods, even if that person has the same last name. So, for example, Joe McDonald could expect a legal challenge - presumably one that would succeed - if he opened a restaurant named "McDonald's," despite that "McDonald" is his last name. 

Continue reading "Indiana Trademark Litigation: Rieke Corporation Sues Riekes Packaging Corporation for 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" »

April 7, 2014

Indiana Trademark Litigation: Order Inn Asserts Trademark Infringement by "Order In"

Indianapolis, Indiana - A trademark attorney for Order Inn, Inc. of Las Vegas, Nevada filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that TJ Enterprises of Indiana, LLC d/b/a Order In ("Order In") and Tom Ganser, both of Carmel, Indiana and other unknown "Doe" OrderInnPhoto.pngindividuals infringed trademarks for "ORDER INN", Registration Nos. 3,194,903 and 2,801,951, which have been issued by the U.S. Trademark Office.

Order Inn Hospitality Services, also known as Order Inn, was founded in 2001. The company's initial core product, Order Inn Room Service, was created to provide room service to guests of limited-service hotels and timeshares. Order Inn states that it has developed partnerships with over 10,000 hotels and 700 restaurants nationwide and that it does business in Indiana.

Order Inn asserts ownership over several registered trademarks for "Order Inn," among them a registration for "On-line ordering services in the field of restaurant take-out and delivery; on-line order fulfillment services for goods and services which hotel guests, residents or businesses may wish to purchase; promoting the goods and services of others by preparing and placing advertisements in menus placed in hotels, residences or businesses; providing information in the field of on-line restaurant ordering services."

Order Inn claims that, as a result of its extensive, continuous and exclusive use of the "Order Inn" trademark in connection with its services, that trademark has come to be recognized by consumers as identifying Order Inn's services as well as distinguishing them from services offered by others. It further claims that its trademark has developed substantial goodwill throughout the United States.

Order In, which also does business in Indiana, facilitates restaurant takeout and delivery through its website and via telephone. Order In is accused of trademark infringement of a registered trademark and false designation of origin. Ganser is alleged to be an owner and/or manager of Order In and to have personally participated in any trademark infringement. Both Order In and Ganser are accused of infringing upon the Order Inn trademark willfully, intentionally and deliberately and with full knowledge and willful disregard of Order Inn's intellectual property rights.

In its complaint, filed by a trademark lawyer for Order Inn, the following counts are alleged:

• Federal Trademark Infringement Under 15 U.S.C. §1114
• False Designation of Origin and Unfair Competition under 15 U.S.C. §1125(a)

Order Inn asks for an injunction; damages, including treble damages; interest; costs and attorney's fees

Practice Tip:

The protection afforded to a registered trademark is not exhaustive in scope. Among the limits to its applicability are restrictions based on the type of business to which the trademark pertains. From its website, it appears that Order Inn directs its efforts primarily towards guests at hotels, inns and similar temporary-lodging facilities. In contrast, Order In's offerings are not similarly limited.

Trademarks protection is also unavailable for generic words that merely describe the goods or services for sale. For example, while "Apple" could be trademarked for use in conjunction with the sale of computers, a company would not be allowed to trademark the term to refer to the sale of apples. Similarly here, Order Inn may have difficulty in showing that it should be allowed to prohibit nationwide the use by anyone else of the generic term "order in."

Continue reading "Indiana Trademark Litigation: Order Inn Asserts Trademark Infringement by "Order In" " »

April 3, 2014

Indiana Trademark Litigation: Noble Roman's Sues for Trademark Infringement

Indianapolis, Indiana - An Indiana trademark attorney for Noble Roman's, Inc. of NRPPicture.gifIndianapolis, Indiana filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Sahara Sam's Indoor Water Park, LLC of Pennsauken, New Jersey ("Sahara") infringed its trademarks. These trademarks are: Noble Roman's®, Trademark Registration No. 987,069; THE BETTER PIZZA PEOPLE, Trademark Registration No. 1,920,428; and a design mark, Trademark Registration No. 1,682,308. Noble Roman's also states that it has registered the Tuscano's® mark. In addition to trademark infringement, Noble Roman's asserts that Sahara engaged in false designation of origin and unlawful competition. Noble Roman's has registered its marks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Noble Roman's is in the business of franchising the operation of Noble Roman's pizza franchises that feature pizza, breadsticks, and other related food items to various franchisees throughout the world. Noble Roman's has used its trademarks, among them "Noble Roman's" and "The Better Pizza People," registered in 1974 and 1995, respectively, in commerce in connection with marketing, identifying, and promoting its pizza franchises.

On or about June 27, 2005, Noble Roman's and entered into two franchise agreements. Under the terms of the agreements, Sahara became a franchisee of Noble Roman's, licensed and authorized to sell "Noble Roman's" and "Tuscano's" branded food products using Noble Roman's intellectual property assets. Noble Roman's asserts that these agreements included terms relating to the accurate reporting of sales and timely payment of franchise fees and other fees.

Sahara is accused of failing to pay royalties as required under the agreement and of misreporting sales, among other things. Noble Roman's contends that Sahara purposely, intentionally and knowingly misreported its sales to Noble Roman's for the purpose of avoiding payment of franchise fees and/or royalties which were due.

Noble Roman's also contends that, after electing not to renew the franchise agreements, Sahara violated certain post-termination provisions of the Agreements, including those which require Sahara to: (1) cease to use any Noble Roman's proprietary products; and (2) remove from public view and display any signage or other articles containing or depicting the trademarks.

Sahara is further accused of having violated the non-competition covenants by selling, after termination of the franchise agreements, various food items "which can be utilized without knowledge gained from Noble Roman's."

Noble Roman's states that Sahara's actions were without the authorization or consent of Noble Roman's and that they constitute trademark infringement, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1), as well as false designation of origin in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1125.

The complaint, filed by an Indiana trademark lawyer, lists the following:

• Count One (Trademark Infringement)
• Count One [sic] (Breach of Contract)
• Count Two (Fraud)
• Count Three (Injunctive Relief)

Noble Roman's asks for injunctive relief, as well as judgment in its favor in amount to be proven at trial, together with interest, punitive damages, costs of collection and reasonable attorney's fees.

Practice Tip: Noble Roman's has been particularly aggressive in enforcing franchise agreements. Since 2007, it has also filed the following suits in the Southern District of Indiana:

February 12, 2014 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. B & MP and LESLIE PERDRIAU

September 5, 2012 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. VILLAGE PANTRY

March 17, 2011 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. FINDLAY TIFFIN OIL, LLC and AYMAN MAGDADDI

January 27, 2011 - NOBLE ROMAN'S INC. et al. v. BRABHAM OIL COMPANY and BRABHAM OIL COMPANY

October 9, 2009 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. CITY CENTER FOOD CORP., INC.

August 31, 2009 - NOBLE ROMAN'S INC. v. W.J. INTERNATIONAL GROUP, LLC

July 17, 2009 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. MARDAN, INC.

July 8, 2009 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. RENTON WILLIAMS

April 21, 2009 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. RICHARD A. GOMES and RRCM FOODS, INC.

April 2, 2009 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. KANDAKAR ALAM

February 17, 2009 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. EXPRESS LANE, INC.

February 10, 2009 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. JJP&L, LLC

November 6, 2008 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. PARDIS & ASSOCIATES, INC.

October 24, 2008 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v DELTA PROPERTY MANAGEMENT LLC, ZACK BROTHERS TRUCK STOP, LLC and STANDARD PETROLEUM CORP.

October 6, 2008 - NOBLE ROMAN'S INC. v. JAY'S GAS LLC

April 9, 2008 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. SHAHRAM RAHIMIAN

March 17, 2008 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. MEDALLION CONVENIENCE STORES, INC.

December 20, 2007 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. MICHAEL J. BRUNSWICK, LAURIE BRUNSWICK, and M&L RESTAURANTS, LLC

September 17, 2007 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. THE FRENCH BAGUETTE, LLC et al.

July 26, 2007 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. MR. RON'S, L.C.

July 19, 2007 - NOBLE ROMAN'S INC. v. BAUER BUILT, INC. et al.

Continue reading "Indiana Trademark Litigation: Noble Roman's Sues 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 20, 2014

Noble Roman's Sues Another Indiana Franchisee Alleging Trademark Infringement

Indianapolis, Indiana - An Indiana trademark attorney for Noble Roman's, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana sued in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that B & MP, LLC (which was dissolved in 2011) and Leslie Perdriau of Apple River, Illinois (collectively, "B & MP")picture2Nobleromans.bmp infringed the trademark Noble Roman's, Registration No. 987,069, as well as the trademark, The Better Pizza People, Registration No. 1,920,428. Noble Roman's also lists a design mark, Registration No. 1,682,308 in its complaint. All of the marks have been registered by the U.S. Trademark Office.

Noble Roman's is in the business of franchising the operation of Noble Roman's pizza franchises that feature pizza, breadsticks, and other related food items to various franchisees throughout the world. Noble Roman's has used its trademarks, among them "Noble Roman's" and "The Better Pizza People," registered in 1974 and 1995, respectively, in commerce in connection with marketing, identifying, and promoting its pizza franchises.

On or about March 16, 2010, Noble Roman's and B & MP entered into two franchise agreements. Under the terms of the agreements, B & MP became a franchisee of Noble Roman's licensed and authorized to sell "Noble Roman's" and "Tuscano's" branded food products using Noble Roman's intellectual property assets. These agreements included terms relating to the accurate reporting of sales and timely payment of franchise and other fees.

B & MP is accused of failing to pay royalties as required under the agreement and of misreporting sales, among other things. Noble Roman's contends that B & MP purposely, intentionally and knowingly misreported its sales to Noble Roman's for the purpose of avoiding payment of franchise fees and/or royalties which were due.

Noble Roman's also states that B & MP used the Noble Roman's trademarks in connection with the sale of non-Noble Roman's pizza and other menu items and that such use of the trademarks was without the authorization or consent of Noble Roman's. Those acts were asserted to constitute trademark infringement, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1), as well as a false designation of origin in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1125.

Although the complaint lists two Defendants, Noble Roman's states that Defendant B & MP was involuntarily dissolved in 2011 and that Defendant Leslie Perdriau succeeded to its obligations.

The complaint, filed by an Indiana trademark lawyer, lists the following:

• Count One (Trademark Infringement)
• Count One [sic] (Breach of Contract)
• Count Two (Fraud)

Noble Roman's asks for judgment in its favor in amount to be proven at trial, together with interest, punitive damages, costs of collection and reasonable attorneys' fees.

Practice Tip: Noble Roman's has been particularly aggressive in enforcing franchise agreements. Since 2007, it has also filed the following suits in the Southern District of Indiana:

September 5, 2012 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. VILLAGE PANTRY

March 17, 2011 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. FINDLAY TIFFIN OIL, LLC and AYMAN MAGDADDI

January 27, 2011 - NOBLE ROMAN'S INC. et al. v. BRABHAM OIL COMPANY and BRABHAM OIL COMPANY

October 9, 2009 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. CITY CENTER FOOD CORP., INC.

August 31, 2009 - NOBLE ROMAN'S INC. v. W.J. INTERNATIONAL GROUP, LLC

July 17, 2009 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. MARDAN, INC.

July 8, 2009 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. RENTON WILLIAMS

April 21, 2009 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. RICHARD A. GOMES and RRCM FOODS, INC.

April 2, 2009 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. KANDAKAR ALAM

February 17, 2009 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. EXPRESS LANE, INC.

February 10, 2009 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. JJP&L, LLC

November 6, 2008 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. PARDIS & ASSOCIATES, INC.

October 24, 2008 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v DELTA PROPERTY MANAGEMENT LLC, ZACK BROTHERS TRUCK STOP, LLC and STANDARD PETROLEUM CORP.

October 6, 2008 - NOBLE ROMAN'S INC. v. JAY'S GAS LLC

April 9, 2008 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. SHAHRAM RAHIMIAN

March 17, 2008 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. MEDALLION CONVENIENCE STORES, INC.

December 20, 2007 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. MICHAEL J. BRUNSWICK, LAURIE BRUNSWICK, and M&L RESTAURANTS, LLC

September 17, 2007 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. THE FRENCH BAGUETTE, LLC et al.

July 26, 2007 - NOBLE ROMAN'S, INC. v. MR. RON'S, L.C.

July 19, 2007 - NOBLE ROMAN'S INC. v. BAUER BUILT, INC. et al.

Continue reading "Noble Roman's Sues Another Indiana Franchisee Alleging Trademark Infringement" »

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" »

January 13, 2014

Contour Hardening Sues Vanair for Patent and Trademark Infringement

Indianapolis, Indiana - Indiana patent and trademark attorneys for Contour Hardening, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana sued seeking injunctive and monetary relief in the Southern District of Indiana. Contour Hardening alleges that Vanair Manufacturing, Inc. of Michigan City, Indiana has infringed the trademark "REAL POWER", Trademark Registration No. 3,124,014, as well as Contour Hardening's patented "Vehicle Mounted Electrical Generator System." The invention is covered by Patent Nos. 6,979,913 and 7,057,303, which have been issued by the U.S. Patent Office.

US06979913-20051227-D00005.PNGIn this lawsuit, Plaintiff Contour Hardening contends that Defendant Vanair has violated, and continues to violate, inter alia, the patent laws of the United States, 35 U.S.C. §§271 and 281- 285, as well as the Federal Trademark Act by infringing Contour Hardening's two patents, U.S. Patent Nos. 6,979,913 and 7,057,303 (collectively, the "Contour Patents"), and infringing Contour Hardening's REAL POWER trademark by using Vanair's allegedly similar ROAD POWER trademark.

Contour Hardening is a developer and provider of Power Take-Off ("PTO") driven generator systems for vehicles ranging from Class 2 pickup trucks (e.g., full-size trucks) to larger Class 8 Heavy Duty trucks (e.g., tractor trailer trucks). It states that these systems have been utilized in municipal, fire-rescue, construction, healthcare, mining, farming and other applications.

Plaintiff asserts that, sometime around 2007, Vanair first began offering vehicle-mounted AC-generator systems that infringe one or more of the claims of the Contour Patents. Vanair is accused of having received actual knowledge that it was infringing the Contour Patents at least as early December 17, 2012, when an Indiana patent and trademark lawyer for Contour Hardening sent to Vanair a letter providing it with actual notice of the Contour Patents and expressing "concerns regarding possible infringement." The letter requested that Vanair "evaluate [its] activities relative to these two (2) patents and provide a written response as to when any infringing activities will cease." According to Contour Hardening, Vanair did not respond this letter.

In addition to its allegations of patent infringement, Contour Hardening asserts trademark infringement. Contour Hardening indicates that it is the owner of United States Registration No. 3,124,014 for the trademark REAL POWER for providing AC generators. It claims that, since at least 2004 and continuously to date, it has adopted and used in interstate commerce the trademark REAL POWER in connection with its PTO-driven AC-generator systems and related operations and that the trademark has become distinctive to consumers in the vehicle-mounted AC-generator industry.

Contour Hardening contends that Vanair offers the allegedly infringing products under the trademark ROAD POWER with knowledge of Contour Hardening's REAL POWER trademark. It further asserts that the nameplates, labels or other graphic displays that Vanair uses are confusingly similar to Contour Hardening's trademark and that Vanair's use of the ROAD POWER trademark is likely to cause confusion or mistake or deception of consumers as to the source of origin of Vanair's goods or services. Contour Hardening further claims that Vanair's activities have been willful, deliberate and intentional, have caused a likelihood of confusion, and have been done with the intent to trade upon Contour Hardening's goodwill in the trademark REAL POWER.

In the complaint, Indiana patent and trademark attorneys assert the following on Contour Hardening's behalf:

• Count I - Infringement of U.S. Patent 6,979,913
• Count II - Infringement of U.S. Patent 7,057,303
• Count III - Trademark Infringement
• Count IV - False Designation of Origin

Contour Hardening asks the court for a judgment of infringement of the Contour Patents; a judgment of infringement of Contour Hardening's REAL POWER trademark; a permanent injunction prohibiting further infringement; an order that all infringing devices be delivered and destroyed; damages, including treble damages; costs and expenses; an order declaring that the case is exceptional and an award of attorney's fees pursuant to such a finding.

Practice Tip: A 2006 opinion from the Federal Circuit, AERO Products International, Inc., et al. v. INTEX Recreation Corp., et al., addressed double recovery in cases where both patent infringement and trademark infringement are found. The Federal Circuit held that the trial court's award of both $2.95 million for patent infringement - which was doubled to $5.9 million pursuant to a finding of willful patent infringement - and $1 million for trademark infringement was impermissible as a double recovery for the "same injury." The court vacated the $1 million award for trademark damages stating, "even though damages are claimed based upon separate statutes or causes of action, when the claims arise out of the same set of operative facts, as is the case here, there may be only one recovery."

Continue reading "Contour Hardening Sues Vanair for Patent and Trademark Infringement" »

December 16, 2013

Cummins Alleges Trademark Infringement and Counterfeiting in Lawsuit

Indianapolis, Indiana - Cummins Inc. of Columbus, Indiana has sued in the Southern District of Indiana alleging counterfeiting, trademark infringement and trademark dilution by T'Shirt Factory of Greenwood, Indiana; Freedom Custom Z of Bloomington, Indiana; Shamir Harutyunyan of Panama City Beach, Florida and Doe Defendants 1 - 10. Defendants are accused of infringing various trademarks, including those protected by Trademark Registration Nos. 4,103,161 and 1,090,272, which have been registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Cummins was founded nearly a century ago and is a global power leader with complementary business units that design, manufacture, distribute and service engines and related Cummins-word-mark.jpgtechnologies, including fuel systems, controls, air handling, filtration, emission solutions and electrical power generation systems. Cummins employs approximately 46,000 people worldwide and serves customers in approximately 190 countries.

Defendants include T'Shirt Factory and Shamir Harutyunyan, who is alleged to be an owner, agent, and/or officer of T'Shirt Factory. Cummins claims that Harutyunyan was personally aware of, and authorized and/or participated in, the wrongful conduct alleged in Cummins' complaint. Freedom Custom Z is also named as a Defendant. Its business purportedly includes the sale of t-shirts, sweatshirts and other apparel upon which logos have been printed or affixed. Doe Defendants 1 - 10, the identities of whom are currently unknown, have also been accused of the illegal acts alleged.

Cummins states that it owns and maintains hundreds of trademark registrations worldwide covering a broad spectrum of goods and services. Among those is Trademark Registration No. 4,126,680, which covers the following goods: "Men's and women's clothing, namely, sweatshirts, hooded sweatshirts, aprons, shirts, sport shirts, jackets, t-shirts, polo shirts, baseball caps and hats, ski caps, fleece caps, headbands, scarves, quilted vests, coveralls, leather jackets, t-shirts for toddlers and children" in International Class 25.

Cummins also asserts that it owns Trademark Registration No. 4,103,161. It indicates that this trademark registration covers the following goods: "Men's and women's clothing, namely, sweatshirts, hooded sweatshirts, aprons, shirts, sport shirts, jackets, t-shirts, polo shirts, baseball caps and hats, ski caps, fleece caps, headbands, scarves, quilted vests, coveralls, leather jackets, t-shirts for toddlers and children" in International Class 25. Cummins also states that it owns Trademark Registration No. 4,305,797, registered for similar goods.

Finally, Cummins claims Trademark Registration Nos. 579,346; 1,090,272 and 1,124,765, which also relate to the Cummins Mark, as its intellectual property.

In December 2013, Cummins employees observed apparel bearing the Cummins Marks offered for sale at kiosks located in the College Mall in Bloomington, Indiana; in the Greenwood Park Mall in Greenwood, Indiana; and in the Castleton Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Trademark lawyers for Cummins have sued in the Southern District of Indiana. Cummins accuses Defendants of having acted intentionally, willfully and maliciously. It makes the following claims in its complaint:

• Count I: Trademark Infringement Under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)
• Count II: Trademark Dilution Under Section 43(c) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c)
• Count III: Trademark Counterfeiting Under Section 32(1) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1)

Cummins asks 1) for a temporary restraining order allowing inspection and seizure of the accused goods as well as enjoining Defendants from, inter alia, manufacturing or selling items bearing counterfeit Cummins Marks; 2) for preliminary and permanent injunctions prohibiting Defendants from, inter alia, manufacturing or selling items bearing counterfeit Cummins Marks; and 3) that the court order the destruction of all unauthorized goods.

It also asks the court to find that the Defendants 1) have infringed Cummins' trademarks in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1114; 2) have created a false designation of origin and false representation of association in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a); 3) have diluted Cummins' famous trademarks in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c) and 4) have willfully infringed.

Cummins asks for Defendants' profits from the sales of the infringing and counterfeit goods bearing the Cummins Marks; treble actual damages, costs, reasonable attorneys' fees as well as pre-judgment and post-judgment interest.

Practice Tip: Repercussions for counterfeiting are not limited to the damages that can be awarded for civil wrongdoing. Increasingly, defendants who engage in counterfeiting, especially counterfeiting on a large scale or during high-profile events, can find themselves facing criminal charges (see, e.g., an arrest made on allegations of counterfeiting during Super Bowl XLVI) in addition to being sued by the owner of the trademark.

Continue reading "Cummins Alleges Trademark Infringement and Counterfeiting in Lawsuit" »

December 11, 2013

Project Management Academy Sues Former Instructor for Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

Indianapolis, Indiana - eCity Market, Inc. d/b/a Project Management Academy ("PMA") of Lafayette, Indiana has sued Vaughn Scott Burch ("Burch") and Graywood Consulting Group, Inc. d/b/a Graywood Training Solutions of Leesburg, Virginia (collectively, "Graywood") alleging infringement of its Project Management Professional examination and certification training. This suit was initially filed in Delaware County Circuit Court No. 4 but was removed to the Southern District of Indiana.

PMA offers preparation courses for the Project Managementpicture.png Institute's Project Management Professional ("PMP") examination and certification process. PMA states that Burch was one of its most-trusted PMP course instructors in the Washington, D.C. area and that, in connection with that position, PMA provided him with access to its proprietary manner of conducting its PMP-examination preparation courses. Moreover, PMA claims that it commissioned Burch and Graywood, Burch's company, to draft and prepare as a "work for hire" certain training modules that would be for PMA's exclusive use.

PMA alleges that Burch and Graywood are now teaching PMP courses that are in direct competition with PMA. It also contends that Defendants have stolen PMA's confidential, proprietary and copyrighted materials to further their own course offerings. PMA further indicates that Defendants are violating the non-competition covenants by reproducing PMA's copyrighted materials and are passing them off as their own. Finally, PMA contends that Defendants are attempting to engage in unfair competition with PMA by publishing student testimonials as if they were from Defendants' students when, PMA states, the testimonials were actually given by the students of PMA.

An intellectual property lawyer for PMA filed a complaint alleging the following:

• Count I - Breach of Contract
• Count II - Breach of Duty of Loyalty
• Count III - Misappropriation of Trade Secrets
• Count IV - Theft/Conversion
• Count V - Tortious Interference with Prospective Business Relationship and Advantage
• Count VI - Lanham Act Violations
• Count VII - Unfair Competition

PMA asks for preliminary and permanent injunctions; an order requiring the return of all PMA materials; judgment in favor of PMA on the seven counts listed; damages, including treble and punitive damages; attorney's fees and costs; and interest.

Practice Tip: There has also been a growing trend, perhaps fueled in part by states' difficulties in paying increasing unemployment benefits, to limit via legislation the enforceability of non-compete agreements. Indiana considers non-compete agreements to be in restraint of trade and, thus, construes them narrowly. Among the states that have considered such limitations are Maryland, New Jersey, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Virginia.  However, even in those cases where a non-compete agreement is found to be unenforceable, such a finding will not prevent a party from suing to protect its other rights, such as the intellectual property rights granted under copyright law.

Continue reading "Project Management Academy Sues Former Instructor for Misappropriation of Trade Secrets" »

November 25, 2013

Eli Lilly Sues Singpet for Trademark Infringement

Indianapolis, Indiana - Eli Lilly and Company of Indianapolis, Indiana has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Sebastian Wiradharma a/k/a Sebastian Singh ("Singh") and Singpet Pte. Ltd., both of Singapore, infringed the trademark COMFORTIS, Registration Number 3,370,168, which has been registered by the U.S. Trademark Office.

Lilly, through its Elanco Animal Health Division, manufactures, markets and sells pet Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Lilly-logo.pngmedicines, including flea-control preparations and treatments for parasitic infestations. It contends that it has made long and continuous of the name and mark "Elanco" in connection with veterinary preparations. It also asserts that it has long used the "Comfortis" mark, which was registered by the U.S. Trademark Office in 2008. Lilly claims that it has sold tens of millions of dollars' worth of veterinary preparations, pet medicines and related goods and services under the Elanco and Comfortis marks.

Among Lilly's products is Trifexis, a once-monthly veterinary medication, which contains the veterinary chemicals spinosad and milbemycin oxime. Trifexis is for the prevention of heartworms, fleas and intestinal worms. It is sold in the United States with what Lilly contends to be an inherently distinctive and non-functional trade dress. Trifexis is available only by prescription through licensed veterinarians. Lilly sells a similar product in Australia, with similar trade dress, under the name "Panoramis."

Defendant Singh, who is allegedly the principal of Singpet, and Singpet do business over the Internet, including via websites at www.singpet.com, www.petcorporate.com, www.fleastuff.com and http://www.ourpetworld.net/home.asp, among others.

Defendants are accused of marketing and selling European and Australian versions of Elanco- and Comfortis-branded pet medicines to customers in the United States. Specifically, Lilly contends that Defendants market "Panoramis (Triflexis)" [sic] on their websites. While the Defendants are apparently based in Singapore, this marketing is allegedly directed at consumers in the United States. Lilly asserts that units designed for sale in markets such as Europe and Australia are neither intended nor authorized for sale in the United States.

Lilly further objects to the Defendants' purported advertisement of units designed for the Australian and European markets as identical to or interchangeable with the units designed for sale in the United States. It states that that the Elanco-branded "Panoramis" pet medicines are materially different from its Elanco-branded "Trifexis" pet medicines sold in the United States.

Lilly contends that the Elanco- and Comfortis-branded pet medicines are tailored to meet the requirements of different geographic regions and countries to reflect the differences in language, climate, government regulations, units of measure, local addresses and telephone numbers, among other things.

Trademark attorneys for Lilly assert that Defendants are not authorized to use Lilly's Elanco or Comfortis names and trade dress in connection with the sale of once-monthly spinosad and milbemycin oxime pet medicines outside of Australia. Lilly has sued Defendants, asserting willful infringement of its trademarks. It asserts the following in its complaint:

• First Claim for Relief: Trademark Infringement in Violation of Section 32 of the Lanham Act
• Second Claim for Relief: Unfair Competition in Violation of Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act
• Third Claim for Relief: False Advertising in Violation of Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act
• Fourth Claim for Relief: Unfair Competition in Violation of Indiana Common Law

Lilly asks for preliminary and permanent injunctions; damages, including treble damages; the Defendants to be required to notify all purchasers of the accused products, request the return of the products and refund the price paid; pre- and post-judgment interest and costs of the suit.

Practice Tip:

Lilly is objecting to the so-called "grey market" for its veterinary pharmaceuticals. Prices for drugs can vary considerably between countries, often as a result of government intervention in the market. As a result, a "grey market" - selling a drug intended for use in one country to consumers in another country - can emerge. In this complaint, Lilly has framed its objection to a grey market for its pet-care pharmaceuticals as an intellectual property dispute.

Intellectual property law requires a balancing of competing interests. On the one hand, innovation will be discouraged if inventors, authors and other creators of intellectual property are not allowed to benefit from their labors. Such a problem arises if others are allowed to use creators' ideas without compensating them (the "free-rider problem"). On the other hand, the public good is promoted by encouraging free competition in the marketplace and easy alienability of property.

Under the first-sale defense to infringement, once a copy of an item protected by intellectual property laws has been sold to a purchaser, the creator of the intellectual property generally may not prevent that purchaser from reselling or otherwise disposing of the item. In patent and copyright law, the first-sale rule in most cases provides an absolute defense against infringement. In patent law, this is also referred to as "patent exhaustion." As a result, the purchaser of a copy of the work and the owner of the intellectual property rights to that work may become competitors in the marketplace if the purchaser goes to resell a copy of the work.

The first-sale defense is not as broad in a trademark context. Enunciated in 1924 by the U.S. Supreme Court, the general rule for the resale of a trademark item provides that, after a trademark owner has sold a trademarked product, the buyer ordinarily may resell that product under the original mark without incurring any trademark liability. See Prestonettes, Inc. v. Coty, 264 U.S. 359 (1924). However, unlike patent or copyright law, trademark law has as one of its primary goals preventing confusion among potential purchasers. Typically, but not always, such confusion will not exist where a genuine article bearing an authentic trademark is sold. While there is a split among the circuits concerning the extent to which consumer confusion is a relevant factor, some hold that certain types of confusion about a product's origin cause the first-sale defense to be inapplicable to the resale of a trademarked good. See Au-Tomotive Gold Inc. v. Volkswagen of America, Inc., 603 F.3d 1133, 1134 (9th Cir. 2010).

Continue reading "Eli Lilly Sues Singpet for Trademark Infringement" »

November 20, 2013

Eli Lilly Sues Pet Supply, Pet Products Net and Graham Nelson for Trademark Infringement

Indianapolis, Indiana - Eli Lilly and Company of Indianapolis, Indiana ("Lilly") has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Graham Nelson, Zoja Pty Ltd. d/b/a Pet Supply International Ltd., and Pet Products Net, all of Australia, infringed the trademark COMFORTIS, Trademark Registration No. 3,370,168, which has been registered by the U.S. Trademark Office.

Lilly, through its Elanco Animal Health Division, manufactures, markets and sells pet Thumbnail image for Lilly-logo.pngmedicines, including flea-control preparations and treatments for parasitic infestations. It contends that it has made long and continuous of the name and mark "Elanco" in connection with veterinary preparations. It also asserts that it has long used the "Comfortis" mark, which was registered by the U.S. Trademark Office in 2008. Lilly claims that it has sold tens of millions of dollars' worth of veterinary preparations, pet medicines and related goods and services under the Elanco and Comfortis marks.

Among Lilly's products is Trifexis, a once-monthly veterinary medication, which contains the veterinary chemicals spinosad and milbemycin oxime. Trifexis is for the prevention of heartworms, fleas and intestinal worms. It is sold in the United States with what Lilly contends to be an inherently distinctive and non-functional trade dress. Trifexis is available only by prescription through licensed veterinarians. Lilly sells a similar product in Australia, with similar trade dress, under the name "Panoramis."

Defendants Nelson, Zoja, Pet Supply and Pet Products Net do business over the Internet, including at the website www.bestvaluepetsupplies.com. Among the products listed on their website is "Panoramis aka Trifexis." While the companies are apparently based in Australia, the website indicates that they ship to the United States.

Lilly has sued Defendants over the sale of Panoramis to the United States. It asserts that units designed for sale in markets such as Europe and Australia are neither intended nor authorized for sale in the United States. Lilly further indicates that the Elanco- and Comfortis-branded pet medicines are tailored to meet the requirements of different geographic regions and countries to reflect the differences in language, climate, government regulations, units of measure, local addresses and telephone numbers, among other things.

Lilly objects to the Defendants' purported advertisement of units designed for the Australian and European markets as identical to or interchangeable with the units designed for sale in the United States. It states that that the Elanco-branded "Panoramis" pet medicines are materially different from its Elanco-branded "Trifexis" pet medicines sold in the United States.

Trademark attorneys for Lilly assert that Defendants are not authorized to use Lilly's Elanco or Comfortis names and trade dress in connection with the sale of once-monthly spinosad and milbemycin oxime pet medicines outside of Australia. Lilly has sued Defendants, asserting willful infringement of its trademarks. It asserts the following in its complaint:

• First Claim for Relief: Trademark Infringement in Violation of Section 32 of the Lanham Act
• Second Claim for Relief: Unfair Competition in Violation of Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act
• Third Claim for Relief: False Advertising in Violation of Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act
• Fourth Claim for Relief: Unfair Competition in Violation of Indiana Common Law

Lilly asks for preliminary and permanent injunctions; damages, including treble damages; the Defendants to be required to notify all purchasers of the accused products, request the return of the products and refund the price paid; pre- and post-judgment interest and costs of the suit.

Practice Tip:

Lilly is objecting to the so-called "grey market" for its veterinary pharmaceuticals. Prices for drugs can vary considerably between countries, often as a result of government intervention in the market. As a result, a "grey market" - selling a drug intended for use in one country to consumers in another country - can emerge. In this complaint, Lilly has framed its objection to a grey market for its pet-care pharmaceuticals as an intellectual property dispute.

Intellectual property law requires a balancing of competing interests. On the one hand, innovation will be discouraged if inventors, authors and other creators of intellectual property are not allowed to benefit from their labors. Such a problem arises if others are allowed to use creators' ideas without compensating them (the "free-rider problem"). On the other hand, the public good is promoted by encouraging free competition in the marketplace and easy alienability of property.

Under the first-sale defense to infringement, once a copy of an item protected by intellectual property laws has been sold to a purchaser, the creator of the intellectual property generally may not prevent that purchaser from reselling or otherwise disposing of the item. In patent and copyright law, the first-sale rule in most cases provides an absolute defense against infringement. In patent law, this is also referred to as "patent exhaustion." As a result, the purchaser of a copy of the work and the owner of the intellectual property rights to that work may become competitors in the marketplace if the purchaser goes to resell a copy of the work.

The first-sale defense is not as broad in a trademark context. Enunciated in 1924 by the U.S. Supreme Court, the general rule for the resale of a trademark item provides that, after a trademark owner has sold a trademarked product, the buyer ordinarily may resell that product under the original mark without incurring any trademark liability. See Prestonettes, Inc. v. Coty, 264 U.S. 359 (1924). However, unlike patent or copyright law, trademark law has as one of its primary goals preventing confusion among potential purchasers. Typically, but not always, such confusion will not exist where a genuine article bearing an authentic trademark is sold. While there is a split among the circuits concerning the extent to which consumer confusion is a relevant factor, some hold that certain types of confusion about a product's origin cause the first-sale defense to be inapplicable to the resale of a trademarked good. See Au-Tomotive Gold Inc. v. Volkswagen of America, Inc., 603 F.3d 1133, 1134 (9th Cir. 2010).

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