Recently in Trademark Infringement Category

April 16, 2014

Indiana Trademark Litigation: Roche Diagnostics Sues Polymer Technology Systems for Trademark Infringement

Indianapolis, Indiana - An Indiana trademark attorney for Roche Diagnostics GmbH of Roche Picture.jpgGermany and Roche Diagnostics Operations, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana (collectively "Roche Diagnostics") filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Polymer Technology Systems, Inc. d/b/a CHEK Diagnostics of Indianapolis, Indiana ("PTS") infringed the trademarked "ACCU-CHEK", Registration Nos. 1,277,867; 2,403,536; 2,628,696; 2,651,417; 2,681,644; 2,703,048; 2,732,629; 3,071,846; 3,076,905; 3,127,170; 3,194,287; 3,199,675; 3,202,402; 3,256,740; 3,411,797; 3,481,185; 3,595,149; 3,602,8253,609,052; 3,676,782; 3,703,434; 3,991,903; 3,749,950; 4,214,217; 4,230,563; and 4,226,844, which have been issued by the U.S. Trademark Office.

The Roche Diagnostics entities are global providers of medical products that help healthcare providers and consumers to prevent, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and other medical conditions. Included in the Roche Diagnostics offerings are products and services relating to diabetes care, including blood-glucose testing, monitoring and analysis. In connection with these products and services, Roche Diagnostics owns and uses numerous registrations for the federally registered trademark Accu-Chek and related marks.

Defendant PTS is a manufacturer of point-of-care diagnostic products headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. PTS designs, manufactures, and markets products for distribution in over 120 countries around the world and has sales offices in Europe, Latin America, and the Pacific Rim, and manufacturing facilities in Indianapolis, Indiana and Sunnyvale, California.

For several years prior to this trademark infringement complaint by Roche Diagnostics, PTS had sold a product under the name CardioChek, a medical device that measures blood cholesterol. Roche Diagnostics states that it did not assert its trademark rights to oppose the sale of CardioChek when it was marketed under the business name "Polymer Technology Systems."

In March 2014, PTS announced that it was making two changes. According to a press release, it would be changing its business name to "CHEK Diagnostics" and would begin offering a line of diabetes-care products, the AICNow® family of products, which PTS had purchased from Bayer Diabetes Care. This new line of products would be offered under the CHEK Diagnostics business name. Roche Diagnostics contends the expansion into this new market, in conjunction with Defendants' changed business name, violates its trademark rights and is likely to cause confusion, mistake and/or deception as to the source of PTS's diabetes-care goods.

In its complaint, filed by an Indiana trademark lawyer, Roche Diagnostics asserts trademark infringement of its Accu-Chek trademarks under 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1) and § 1125 (a) of the Lanham Act, as well as trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of the common law of the State of Indiana.

Roche Diagnostics requests that the court enjoin PTS from using "CHEK Diagnostics" as a company name or in a manner in any way related to the promotion or sale of diabetes-care products. It asks that the court direct PTS to immediately recall any materials bearing the "CHEK" business name and to order PTS to cancel or modify any pending trademark registrations that include the CHEK name.

Roche Diagnostics also seeks monetary damages as well as a declaration by the court that the use of "CHEK Diagnostics" as a company name, or in a manner in any way related to the sale or promotion of diabetes-care products, would constitute trademark infringement and unfair competition under both federal and Indiana-state law.

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 and product to which the trademark pertains. In this case, while Roche may have declined to object to PTS's use of "CHEK" in conjunction with the sale of a non-diabetes-related product (here, a cholesterol-measuring product), that failure to object is unlikely to waive its right to assert infringement later if the word "CHEK" is used to market a product that is allegedly related to the product for which Roche Diagnostics owns a trademark (here, the purportedly similar line of diabetes products to be offered by PTS).

Continue reading "Indiana Trademark Litigation: Roche Diagnostics Sues Polymer Technology Systems 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 27, 2014

James Dean, Inc.'s Indiana Trademark Infringement Litigation Against Twitter Removed to Federal Court

Indianapolis, Indiana - Illinois and Missouri trademark attorneys for James Dean, Inc. of James_Dean_in_Rebel_Without_a_Cause.jpgIndiana sued in Indiana state court alleging that Twitter, Inc. of California infringed the trademark James Dean, which has been issued by the U.S. Trademark Office by allowing the registration of the Twitter handle @JamesDean. The case was removed from the Superior Court of the County of Hamilton, Indiana to the Southern District of Indiana.

Plaintiff James Dean, Inc. filed a trademark complaint against Twitter, as well as the fictitious persons, John Doe Defendants 1-5 Company, in an Indiana state court. In the complaint, Plaintiff alleged that it is the exclusive owner of the name, likeness, voice, right of publicity and endorsement, worldwide trademarks, copyrights, and other intellectual property including but not limited to visual and aural depictions, artifacts, memorabilia, and life-story rights, and/or trade dress of the late movie star James Dean.

James Dean, Inc. further alleges that Twitter has allowed the registration and operation of a Twitter account, using the handle @JamesDean, located at https://twitter.com/JamesDean, which is purportedly in violation of Plaintiff's rights.

In the complaint, filed by an Indiana trademark lawyer, James Dean, Inc. asserted nine causes of action against Twitter:

• Count I - Trademark Infringement Under Section 32(1) or 3(A) of the Lanham Act;
• Count II - False Endorsement Under Lanham Act § 43(A);
• Count III - Indiana State Statutory Right of Publicity;
• Count IV - Common Law Right of Publicity;
• Count V - Common Law Unfair Competition;
• Count VI - Unjust Enrichment;
• Count VII - Conversion;
• Count VIII - Deception; and
• Count IX - Indiana Crime Victims' Act.

For relief, James Dean, Inc. sought damages, including treble damages, costs, and attorney's fees as set out in the Indiana Right of Publicity Statute, Lanham Act and other statutes. In addition, Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief.

Twitter removed the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal-question jurisdiction) and 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (diversity-of-citizenship jurisdiction). To support the former basis for federal jurisdiction, Twitter noted federal questions inherent in the filing of a claim under the Lanham Act. Twitter also claimed supplemental jurisdiction for the remaining claims under Indiana law.

To support the latter basis for jurisdiction in an Indiana federal court, Twitter asserted that the two prongs for diversity-of-citizenship jurisdiction were met. First, James Dean, Inc. is a citizen of Indiana, as it has alleged that it is incorporated under the laws of the State of Indiana with its principal place of business in Indiana, while Twitter claims to be a citizen of two states: Delaware and California. Second, while Twitter "strongly contests liability and does not believe Plaintiff is entitled to any relief whatsoever," it indicated that, were liability to be found, the amount in controversy could exceed $75,000, given that James Dean, Inc. is suing for "all damages" allowed by the applicable statutes, which can include actual damages, treble damages, punitive damages, statutory damages and attorneys' fees.

Practice Tip:

James Dean was born on February 8, 1931, in Marion, Indiana. He grew up in Fairmount, Indiana, about 60 miles northeast of Indianapolis. Dean starred in East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant, receiving two Academy Award nominations for Best Actor.

In 1955, Dean died in an automobile accident. As a result of the nearly 60 years that have passed since his death, it is unlikely that those who follow @JamesDean believe that the tweets have been written by James Dean himself. Nonetheless, celebrity licensing agency CMG Worldwide, based out of Carmel, Indiana, is attempting to recover the James Dean Twitter account.

CMG, which also represents such celebrity images as Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth, has attempted "on numerous occasions" to make Twitter take action to block and identify owners of various unauthorized accounts. Those accounts could give the impression, it says, that the users have permission from the estates of the celebrities or CMG and "result in immeasurable and irreparable damage."

Finally, most of the James Dean trademarks that were registered by the U.S. Trademark Office have been either abandoned or cancelled. It will be interesting to see to what degree this fact influences the court, should liability be established and a calculation of damages be appropriate.

Continue reading "James Dean, Inc.'s Indiana Trademark Infringement Litigation Against Twitter Removed to Federal Court" »

February 21, 2014

Rieth-Riley Sues Superior Asphalt for Cybersquatting

South Bend, Indiana - An Indiana trademark attorney for Rieth-Riley Construction Co., Inc. of Goshen, Indiana ("Rieth-Riley") sued in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Jeffrey RiethPicture.pngKresnak and Superior Asphalt, Inc. ("Superior"), both of Michigan, infringed the RIETH-RILEY trademark, Trademark Registration No. 1,659,123, which has been issued by the U.S. Trademark Office.

Rieth-Riley, founded in 1916, provides many services under the Rieth-Riley brand, including highway construction, asphalt and concrete paving, site preparation and excavation, bridge construction, underground utilities and drainage construction, asphalt and concrete recycling, curb and sidewalk construction, mining and aggregate processing, and providing sand, gravel and other aggregates for construction projects.

Superior, in business for over 30 years, is in the asphalt manufacturing, supplying, paving and maintenance business. It provides its services to residential, commercial, manufacturing and municipal customers. Defendant Kresnak owns Superior. Rieth-Riley indicates that it considers Superior to be a competitor.

Both companies maintain websites to promote their companies. Rieth-Riley operates its website at www.riethriley.com. Superior operates its site at www.superiorasphalt.com/. Rieth-Riley contends that Superior also purchased and began operating "rieth-riley.net" in violation of Rieth-Riley's intellectual property rights in the trademarked name; it further indicates that this accused domain name resolves to Superior's website. Rieth-Riley states that it attempted to reach an agreement with Defendants to cease using the accused website but that, in response, Defendants indicated that they would do so for $10,000.

Rieth-Riley contends that Defendants are unlawfully profiting through their use of the Rieth-Riley trademark. Specifically, Superior is accused of using the rieth-riley.net domain name with a bad-faith intent to profit by redirecting Internet traffic intended for the Rieth-Riley website to Superior's website.

Rieth-Riley also states that Defendants' unauthorized use of the Domain Name is likely to cause confusion or mistake or to deceive the consuming public as to the affiliation, connection, association or sponsorship of Superior with Rieth-Riley or the Rieth-Riley Mark, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of Superior's goods, services or activities by Rieth-Riley or the Rieth-Riley brand.

Finally, Rieth-Riley asserts that this use was with notice and actual knowledge of Rieth-Riley's prior rights and, as a result, Superior's acts constitute knowing and willful violations of the Lanham Act.

In this Indiana trademark litigation, the following counts are asserted:

• Count I: Federal Trademark Infringement
• Count II: Unfair Competition
• Count III: Cyberpiracy

Rieth-Riley asks the court for:

• preliminary and permanent injunctions enjoining the infringement of the Rieth-Riley trademark;
• preliminary and permanent injunctions enjoining Defendants from engaging in acts of false designation of origin and false description, pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §1125;
• preliminary and permanent injunctions enjoining conduct which causes, or is likely to cause, confusion, mistake, deception, or misunderstanding as to the source, affiliation, connection or association of Defendants' products or services;
• preliminary and permanent injunctions enjoining the operation of any web site utilizing the accused domain name or the Rieth-Riley trademark;
• a judgment against Defendants for statutory damages;
• a judgment against Defendants for (1) all profits attributable to Defendants' unauthorized use of the accused domain name, (2) damages sustained by Rieth-Riley on account of Defendants' unlawful activities, and (3) treble damages;
• an order transferring the accused domain name to Plaintiff;
• an order for the destruction of any infringing items bearing the Rieth-Riley trademark; and
• costs and attorneys' fees.

Practice Tip:

Plaintiff indicates that it attempted to obtain an agreement from Defendants to cease using the accused domain name. Despite this effort, Plaintiff contends that Defendants continued to use the allegedly infringing website name. This lawsuit for trademark infringement, unfair competition and cyberpiracy followed.

Another approach available to a plaintiff in such a situation is to seek a transfer the domain name under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy ("UDRP"). This policy was established to resolve "The Trademark Dilemma" inherent in the largely unpoliced sales of domain names -- the registration of a trademark without the consent of the trademark owner.

As part of the process of registering a domain name, registrants must, among other things, 1) "represent and warrant" that registering the name "will not infringe upon or otherwise violate the rights of any third party" and 2) agree to have the matter heard as an UDRP proceeding if any third party asserts that the domain name violates its trademark rights.

The UDRP is an administrative procedure. A UDRP limits itself to matters concerning abusive registrations and will not intervene in genuine disputes over trademark rights. To prevail in a UDRP proceeding, the complainant must establish three elements:

1) The domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights;
2) The registrant does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the domain name; and
3) The registrant registered the domain name and is using it in "bad faith."

Continue reading "Rieth-Riley Sues Superior Asphalt for Cybersquatting" »

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 14, 2014

Chartreuse Sues Chartreuse Fragrances Seeking Declaratory Judgment of Non-Infringement

Indianapolis, Indiana - An Indiana trademark attorney for Chartreuse LLC of Indianapolis, candle-picture.bmpIndiana ("Chartreuse") filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana seeking a declaration that the trademark Chartreuse, Trademark Registration No. 2,997,572, would not be infringed when used in association with handmade soy candles. The trademark, which has been issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, belongs to Chartreuse Fragrances LLC of Fort Lee, New Jersey ("Chartreuse Fragrances").

Chartreuse states that it has been selling handmade soy candles bearing a "Chartreuse" trademark since January of 2013. Chartreuse Fragrances indicates, via its trademark application, that it has used the "Chartreuse" trademark in commerce since 2002. The trademark is registered to Chartreuse Fragrances for use on candles.

Chartreuse states in its complaint that, on January 7, 2014, Chartreuse Fragrances asserted that Chartreuse's use of the "Chartreuse" mark constituted trademark infringement and demanded that Chartreuse cease and desist all use of the trademark. Plaintiff Chartreuse also states that Chartreuse Fragrances contended that Chartreuse's use of the trademark in connection with the candles was likely to cause consumer confusion.

In this complaint, Chartreuse requests a declaration that its use of "Chartreuse" in connection with handmade soy candles has not infringed the intellectual property rights of Chartreuse Fragrances in the "Chartreuse" trademark. Chartreuse also seeks a declaration that any trademark rights asserted by Chartreuse Fragrances are invalid and unenforceable. Chartreuse supports this assertion in part by contending that Chartreuse Fragrances' trademark is descriptive of Defendant's candles and therefore not entitled to registration, as the term Chartreuse is descriptive of a greenish-yellow color.

Chartreuse makes several additional claims in its complaint: that Chartreuse Fragrances misstated the first-use-in-commerce date that it provided to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO"); that Chartreuse Fragrances asserted falsely to the USPTO that it was using the trademark at the time it applied for a federal registration with the USPTO; that Chartreuse Fragrances is not currently using the trademark in interstate commerce in connection with the candles; and that any use by Chartreuse Fragrances of the trademark on or in connection with candles has been discontinued for at least three consecutive years and, thus, the trademark has been abandoned pursuant to § 1127 of the Lanham Act.

Chartreuse's complaint, filed by an Indiana trademark lawyer, makes two claims for relief: 1) Unenforceability and Invalidity of Defendant's Mark and 2) Non-Infringement of Trademark. It asks that Chartreuse Fragrances' trademark be declared to be not entitled to registration; that the trademark be canceled; for a declaration that Chartreuse is not infringing, has not infringed, and is not liable for infringing the trademark; and for attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses.

Practice Tip:

At first glance, this complaint has a number of potential areas of weakness. While this is a suit for declaratory judgment, it seems as if it may not be yet justiciable for lack of ripeness. In MedImmune v. Genentech, 549 U.S. 118 (2007), the U.S. Supreme Court revised the Federal Circuit's test for ripeness under the Declaratory Judgment Act, which had required a reasonable apprehension of a lawsuit in order to establish jurisdiction. The Court broadened the scope of declaratory judgment jurisdiction, holding that the totality of the circumstances should be evaluated in determining the existence of "a substantial controversy, between parties having adverse legal interests, of sufficient immediacy and reality to warrant relief."

In this case, where the only allegation of controversy is that a single assertion of infringement was purportedly made, it is unclear whether the complaint adequately alleges, under the totality of the circumstances, a controversy of sufficient immediacy to warrant jurisdiction under the Declaratory Judgment Act.

Additionally, Plaintiff asserted that "Defendant's Mark is descriptive of the Covered Goods and therefore not entitled to registration, as the term CHARTREUSE is descriptive of a greenish-yellow color." However, it was not alleged in the complaint that Chartreuse Fragrances' product was, in fact, greenish-yellow in color.

Thus, it appears somewhat more likely, without additional facts, that this trademark might properly be placed into the "arbitrary" category. A trademark is deemed to be "arbitrary" when the word used as a trademark does not suggest or describe a significant ingredient, quality, or characteristic of the goods or services but instead is used in an unexpected or uncommon way (e.g., using "Apple" for computers). Under trademark law, trademarks falling into the arbitrary category are accorded the highest level of protection, as they are deemed to be inherently distinctive.

Continue reading "Chartreuse Sues Chartreuse Fragrances Seeking Declaratory Judgment of Non-Infringement" »

February 12, 2014

Sprint Weighs in with Civil Suit Against Defendants in Criminal Phone-Trafficking Scheme

Indianapolis, Indiana - In a 42-page complaint for damages and injunctive relief, trademarksprint-service-mark.bmp attorneys for Sprint Solutions, Inc. of Reston, Virginia; Sprint Communications Company L.P. and Boost Worldwide, Inc., the latter two of Overland Park, Kansas (collectively, "Sprint"), sued in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Reginald Aldridge and Arrice Aldridge, both of Park Forest, Illinois, and Damion Transou of Humboldt, Tennessee infringed certain Sprint trademarks. These trademarks include the following Sprint marks:  Registration Nos. 1,104,943, 1,573,863, 1,712,259, 1,839,302, 2,833,134, 2,836,616, and 3,046,207.  They have been registered with the U.S. Trademark Office

Sprint sells wireless handsets ("Phones") under the brands Sprint, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, payLo and Assurance Wireless for use on Sprint's wireless network at prices significantly below the wholesale prices of the Phones so that they will be more widely accessible to consumers. Sprint states that it subsidizes the cost of the new Phones for the benefit of its "legitimate" customers. Sprint asserts that it spent more than $6.6 billion on handset subsidies in 2012.

Defendants, along with their alleged co-conspirators are accused of perpetrating an unlawful scheme of bulk handset theft and trafficking to profit from the illegal acquisition and resale of new Phones for their own profit and to the detriment of Sprint. As part of this purportedly fraudulent scheme, Sprint Phones are purchased and resold multiple times. During that process, the Phones are "unlocked" so that they may be used with any service provider, including non-Sprint providers. Sprint contends that, ultimately, these Phones end up in the hands of someone other than the Sprint customer whom Sprint intended to benefit. Sprint contends that the Phones often are sold overseas, where it does not provide service. As a result, Sprint states, Defendants are profiting from this scheme by appropriating the subsidies that Sprint provides to its customers.

Defendants are also accused of unlawfully accessing Sprint's protected computer systems and wireless network, trafficking in Sprint's protected and confidential computer passwords, and/or stealing legitimate customer upgrades. It is asserted that Defendants fraudulently placed at least 65 orders on more than 17 corporate accounts to which they had no legal right of access for the purpose of ordering more than 288 items valued at over $100,000.

Finally, Sprint contends that Defendants' behavior violates the Terms and Conditions to which the sales of Phones are subject as well as willfully infringes Sprint's trademark rights.

Defendants Arrice Aldridge and Damion Transou were indicted, in part for the activities described in the complaint.

In the complaint, filed by an Indiana trademark lawyer, in conjunction with trademark attorneys from Florida and Georgia, the following counts are asserted:

• Count I: Unfair Competition
• Count II: Tortious Interference with Business Relationships and Prospective Advantage
• Count III: Civil Conspiracy
• Count IV: Unjust Enrichment
• Count V: Conspiracy to Induce Breach of Contract
• Count VI: Common Law Fraud
• Count VII: Fraudulent Misrepresentation
• Count VIII: Trafficking in Computer Passwords - 18 U.S.C. §1030(a)(6)
• Count IX: Unauthorized Access - 18 U.S.C. §1030(a)(5)(C)
• Count X: Unauthorized Access with Intent to Defraud - 18 U.S.C. §1030(a)(4)
• Count XI: Federal Trademark Infringement - 15 U.S.C. §1114
• Count XII: Federal Common Law Trademark Infringement and False Advertising - 15 U.S.C. §1125(a)(1)(A)
• Count XIII: Contributory Trademark Infringement
• Count XIV: Conversion

Plaintiffs ask the court for damages, including exemplary damages; attorneys' fees and costs; a permanent injunction prohibiting the practices described in the complaint; and the delivery to Plaintiffs of the Defendants' inventory of accused Phones.

Practice Tip: Cases of cellular phone trafficking such as these, and there are more than a few of them, are an unusual combination of contract law, trademark law and criminal law. In at least one case similar to this one, 16 defendants were also convicted of terrorism charges when it was found that the proceeds from their phone trafficking and other illegal conduct was being funneled to the terrorist organization Hezbollah.

Continue reading "Sprint Weighs in with Civil Suit Against Defendants in Criminal Phone-Trafficking Scheme " »

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" »

February 7, 2014

Licensor of "Tiki Tan" Mark Alleges Infringing Use by Solarium and Solarium Bittersweet

South Bend, Indiana - An Indiana trademark attorney for Al Reasonover of Elkhart, Indiana sued in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Solarium LLC of South Bend, Indiana ("Solarium") and Solarium Bittersweet LLC of Elkhart, Indiana ("Solarium Bittersweet") Tiki_Tan_No-background.pngcommitted trademark infringement of "Tiki Tan", Trademark Reg. No. 2602388, which has been registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

In this complaint for trademark infringement and unfair competition, Plaintiff Reasonover states that he operates tanning salons under the Tiki Tan Mark and that he also develops tanning salons operated by others to whom he licenses the use of the Mark for a fee. Among these licensees, claims Plaintiff, is Solarium.

Reasonover asserts that, instead of displaying the Tiki Tan Mark as licensed, Solarium displays a service mark at its website reading "Tiki Tan by Solarium". Reasonover also claims that, while he and Solarium entered into a licensing agreement that permitted Solarium to use the Mark only within a five mile territory around 4542 Elkhart Road, Elkhart, Indiana, Defendants Solarium and/or Solarium Bittersweet are operating additional tanning salons under the name "Tiki Tan" at 306 N. Bittersweet Road, Mishawaka, Indiana; 1290 E. Ireland Road, South Bend, Indiana and 215 E. University Drive, Granger, Indiana.

Plaintiff indicates that the licensing agreement neither permits Solarium to alter the Mark nor to use the Mark outside of the five mile territory around 4542 Elkhart Road, Elkhart, Indiana. He also claims that Solarium's modification of the Mark to include its own name in connection with the promotion, sale and distribution of tanning salon services infringes on Plaintiff's rights in his federally registered trademark, in violation of 15 U.S.C. Sec. 1114. Reasonover further alleges that Defendants' actions are intended to cause, have caused, and are likely to continue to cause, confusion, mistake, deception among consumers, the public, and the industry as to whether Defendants' services originate from, are affiliated with, sponsored by or endorsed by Plaintiff.

Finally, Defendants are accused of infringing the Mark intentionally, deliberately and willfully. The complaint, filed by an Indiana trademark lawyer, lists the following counts:

• Count I - Trademark Infringement - Injunctive Relief
• Count II - Trademark Infringement - Damages
• Count III - Common Law Trademark Infringement
• Count IV - Common Law Unfair Competition

Reasonover asks the court for:

• a finding that Defendants have violated 15 U.S.C. Sec. 1114; that Defendants have engaged in trademark infringement and unfair competition under the common law of Indiana; and that such conduct has damaged Plaintiff monetarily and in ways not adequately remedied by monetary damages alone;
• an injunction, preliminarily and permanently restraining Defendants from altering the registered Mark, "Tiki Tan," in any way including but not limited to including the words "by Solarium" with the Mark; operating tanning salons at 306 N. Bittersweet Road, Mishawaka, Indiana; 1290 E. Ireland Road, South Bend, Indiana; or 215 E. University Drive, Granger, Indiana under the name "Tiki Tan"; engaging in any other activity constituting unfair competition with Plaintiff; and engaging in any other activity constituting trademark infringement or which deceives consumers or the public about the origin of services associated with Plaintiff;
• an order for corrective advertising;
• statutory damages or, alternatively, the disgorgement of all profits realized as a result of Defendants' wrongful acts and also awarding Plaintiff its actual damages;
• a trebling of damages under 15 U.S.C. Sec. 1117;
• Plaintiff's costs, attorney fees, investigatory fees, and expenses under 15 U.S.C. Sec. 1117; and
• pre-judgment interest on any monetary award.

Practice Tip: A trademark license may be granted by a licensor to a licensee to permit the licensee to use a trademark in a way that would otherwise infringe upon the licensor's intellectual property rights. A license to use a trademark typically includes various restrictions. Those restrictions may include, among other things, limits on territory, term and manner of use.

Continue reading "Licensor of "Tiki Tan" Mark Alleges Infringing Use by Solarium and Solarium Bittersweet" »

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" »

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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