Articles Posted in Breach of Contract

Syndicate Sales Inc., an Indiana corporation, along with six other Defendants filed notice to remove a case initially filed in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles by Plaintiff, Natural Pack, Inc. (“Natural Pack”). Defendants sought to remove the case to the United States District Court for the Central District of California pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1337, and 1441 for federal question and diversity jurisdiction.

The removed case is a civil action entitled Natural Pack, Inc. v. Syndicate Sales, Inc. et al. Case No 19TSCV32476 (the “State Action”).  Natural Pack filed the State Action on September 12, 2019, asserting claims for violation of Uniform Trade Secrets Act, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, intentional interference with prospective economic relations, negligence, violation of the Lanham Act, and California Statutory and common law infringement. Following removal to the Central District of California, the Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss under F.R.C.P. 12(b)(2) or in the alternative to Change Venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1401. The case was transferred to the Southern District of Indiana on January 21, 2020.

The Original Notice of Removal was filed October 15, 2019 in the Central District of California; and the case was transferred to the Southern District of  Indiana on January 21, 2020 given Case No. 1:20-cv-00219-JRS-DLP and assigned to District Judge James R. Sweeney and Magistrate Judge Doris L. Pryor.

Indianapolis, Indiana – Sheryl Lutz-Brown (“Sheryl”), the principal for Plaintiff, Corlinea, is a graphic designer and creator of copyrighted jewelry designs. In 2016, Sheryl claims to have developed a unique work entitled “HEARTY LOVE Design” that incorporated the word “love” into a heart shape design with one continuous line. Shortly after the “HEARTY LOVE Design”, it appears Sheryl created the “Heartlines Love Pendant” which was a heart-shaped pendant with the word “love” incorporated into the design with a continuous line. Sheryl registered both of these designs and they were assigned U.S. Copyright Registration Nos. VAu 1-301-361 and VAu 2-093-049 (the “Registered Copyrights”), respectively. Corlinea claims to own both of the Registered Copyrights by assignment.

Pendant-picture-300x161Corlinea and Defendant, Shah Diamonds, Inc. d/b/a Shah Luxury (“Shah”), are no strangers in litigation as Corlinea previously sued Shah in a similar lawsuit in 2018. The parties in that case entered into a confidential Settlement Agreement and Release and the case was voluntarily dismissed. Less than one year after Shah signed the previous Settlement Agreement and Release, Corlinea claims it discovered Shah was once again offering infringing jewelry for sale on its website.

Corlinea claims Defendants, Spath Jewelers, Inc. and Showcase Jewelers, LTD are also offering infringing jewelry for sale on their respective websites. Due to the allegedly intentional copying of the Registered Copyrights, Corlinea is seeking damages for Federal Copyright Infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 501 and breach of the Settlement Agreement and Release from the 2018 lawsuit.

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The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the trial court on both issues on appeal in the case of American Consulting, Inc. d/b/a American Structurepoint, Inc. (“American”) versus Hannum Wagle & Cline Engineering, Inc., d/b/a HWC Engineering, Inc. (“HWC”), Marlin A. Knowles, Jr., Jonathan A. Day, David Lancet, and Tom Mobley, originally filed in the Marion County Superior Court.

American-HWC-Engineering-logos-1-300x100Knowles, Day, Lancet, and Mobley were all previous employees of American. Mobley was granted summary judgment in his favor in the trial court so claims against him were not discussed on appeal. Each of the employees signed contracts precluding them from hiring or employing other American employees. These contracts each had clauses for liquidated damages upon breach set at 50% of the employee’s pay during the twelve months prior to the breach for Knowles and 100% of the employee’s pay during the twelve months prior to the breach for Day and Lancet.

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LillyBlogPhotoIndianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Eli Lilly and Company (“Lilly”) of Indianapolis, Indiana, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana seeking a declaratory judgment that Lilly did not misappropriate any trade secrets of Defendant, SensorRx, Inc. (“SensorRx”) of Charlotte, North Carolina, or breach a contract with SensorRx. Lilly is seeking declaratory judgment, costs, attorneys’ fees, litigation expenses, and any other relief the court deems proper.

According to the complaint, Lilly has developed an app to help manage migraines called Vega™ Migraine. Lilly claims it created the app over the course of two years, it released the app on the Apple App Store on November 5, 2019, and the app is currently available for a free download, on a limited basis. Previously, Lilly has allegedly developed other mobile apps including “Go Dose,” a diabetes management and insulin dosing app, which helped Lilly gain experience to create and develop Vega™ Migraine. Lilly claims there are over fifty migraine management and other migraine related apps available to the public and many other health apps directed to various health conditions.

Lilly alleges it began having non-confidential discussions regarding SensorRx’s app, MigrnX™, in mid to late 2018 during which SensorRx discussed the capabilities of the app and demonstrated the app’s usage to Lilly. During the parties’ second in-person meeting in January 2019, they allegedly entered into a Mutual Confidentiality Agreement (“MCA”). Per the complaint, the MCA noted any information already known, becomes known to the public, has been lawfully received without restriction, or has been independently developed without use of confidential information, is not confidential information. Lilly claims due diligence was performed by both parties subsequent the signing of the MCA. After being concerned throughout the process and disappointed after the due diligence was conducted in the level of quality and capability of MigrnX™, Lilly alleges it contacted a representative of SensorRx on or about May 28, 2019 to terminate the due diligence. Continue reading

Evansville, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Baskin-Robbins Franchising LLC and BR IP Holder LLC (collectively “Baskin-Robbins”), both of Canton, Ice-cream-300x201Massachusetts, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana against Defendants, Radhakrishna LLC (“Radha”) of Indianapolis, Indiana, Naik’s, LLC (“Naik’s”) of Louisville, Kentucky, and Mukesh Naik, a citizen of Indiana (collectively “Defendants”), alleging breach of contract, trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, and unfair competition. Baskin-Robbins is seeking injunctive relief, judgment, including statutory damages, and attorneys’ fees.

According to the Complaint, Baskin-Robbins, along with its franchisees, currently operate more than 7,800 shops worldwide and have been in business for over seventy years. BR IP Holder LLC claims to own numerous registrations for marks relating to “Baskin-Robbins” and derivations thereof, most of which are incontestable under 15 U.S.C. § 1065. Baskin-Robbins further claims that the public knows and recognizes their marks due to the extensive sales and marketing Baskin-Robbins has done while in business.

It is alleged that Mukesh Naik, individually, entered a franchise agreement for PC 361694 on or about September 14, 1998; Radha entered into a franchise agreement for PC 351607 on or about August 10, 2013; and Naik’s entered into two franchise agreements for PC 353400 and PC 360506 in 2014 (collectively the “Franchise Agreements”). Each of the alleged Franchise Agreements were entered into between the Defendants and Baskin-Robbins Franchising LLC to operate Baskin-Robbins shops and each were allegedly personally guaranteed by Mukesh Naik. Baskin-Robbins claims that the Defendants defaulted under the Franchise Agreements and after three separate failures to cure their defaulting actions, were each sent a Notice of Termination. According to the Complaint, Defendants have continued using the Baskin-Robbins marks after the Notice of Termination was received by each Defendant, in breach of the Franchise Agreements.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiffs, Dow AgroSciences LLC (“Dow”) of Indianapolis, Indiana and Phytogen-BlogPhotoPhytogen Seed Company, LLC (“Phytogen”), a Delaware limited liability company, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Robert Lemon and Sotero Ramirez, both residents of Texas, infringed their rights under the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, 18 U.S.C. § 1831, et seq. Plaintiffs are seeking permanent injunctions, judgment, compensatory damages, attorney’s fees, costs, and other relief the Court deems proper.

Dow claims to be an industry-leading agricultural chemical and seed company working on innovative ways to increase farm yield and create productive seeds while emphasizing sustainability. Phytogen claims to sell cottonseed under the trade name PhytoGen®, primarily in the southern United States. According to the Complaint, Dow and Phytogen have a mutual controlling member, Mycogen LLC, that allows Dow to provide services to Phytogen via a Service Agreement. Those services allegedly include allowing Dow’s employees to sell PhytoGen® cottonseed.

According to the Complaint, Lemon and Ramirez were both employed by Dow until September 5, 2019. At some point during or before Lemon and Ramirez terminated their employment with Dow, they allegedly both signed Loyalty and Confidentiality Agreements with Plaintiffs (“Agreements”) which included non-compete and non-disclosure agreements. Ramirez allegedly worked for Dow as a Territory Manager and Lemon was a PhytoGen® Cotton Development Specialist, supporting Ramirez and three other Territory Managers.

Prior to giving their two weeks’ notice and resignation from Dow to work for a direct competitor, Americot, Plaintiffs allege Lemon and Ramirez knew of and planned their departure for weeks. Lemon and Ramirez also allegedly lied about the positions they were taking with Americot and told Dow Representatives that they would not be working in similar positions for their new company. Following the resignations, Dow claims it took possession of the Defendants’ company property including their laptops and cell phones.

After an investigation took place, Dow claims it found evidence that the Defendants had attended important, proprietary, strategy meetings after they had received their job offers. Dow further claims the Defendants had deleted and/or transferred information, including proprietary and confidential information, from their company laptops and phones to other devices, including USBs, which were not turned in to Dow. Finally, Dow claims it has text message evidence that shows Lemon planning to utilize training materials developed by Dow in his employment at Americot and shows the Defendants planning to take and utilize contact information for their current clients.

As such, Dow and Phytogen are seeking judgment and damages for the misappropriation of trade secrets against both Defendants pursuant to the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, 18 U.S.C. § 1831, et seq., the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act, Tex. Civ. Code § 134A.001 et seq., and the Indiana Code § 24-2-3-1, et seq. Dow and Phytogen are also seeking damages from Lemon and Ramirez for breaching their Agreements.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, F.F.T., LLC (“F.F.T.”) having a principal place of business inFFT-BlogPhoto-300x65 Seattle, Washington, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Thomas Sexton, Ph.D. (“Sexton”), Functional Family Therapy Associates, Inc. (“Functional Family Therapy”), Astrid Van Dam (“Van Dam”), and FFT Partners, LLC (“FFT Partners” and collectively “Defendants”), infringed its rights in United States Trademark Registration Nos. 4,389,569 for the mark FFT-CW®, 4,435,321 for the mark FFP®, and 5,267,897 for the mark FUNCTIONAL FAMILY THERAPY CHILD WELFARE®. F.F.T. is seeking injunctive relief, judgment including statutory damages, and attorneys’ fees.

F.F.T. claims it “is an organization dedicated to training psychotherapists in the ‘Functional Family Therapy’ protocol that its founder, Dr. James F. Alexander (“Dr. Alexander”), developed through decades of research and practical application.” According to the complaint, F.F.T. conducts business in thirty-three states and ten foreign countries. Sexton and Van Dam are individuals, alleged to be residing in Bloomington, Indiana. Functional Family and FFT Partners are a corporation and limited liability company, respectively, each alleged to have a principal place of business in Bloomington, Indiana.

According to the Amended Complaint, Dr. Alexander began studying and developing his family based method of therapy for delinquent adolescents in the 1960s and began referring to his therapy model as “Functional Family Therapy” in 1982 with the publication of his first book. F.F.T. claims this protocol has become very successful and is now referred to simply as “FFT.” Dr. Alexander along with non-party, Richard Harrison (“Harrison”), and Sexton allegedly formed FFT, Inc. in 1998 to train therapists in the Functional Family Therapy protocol. Per the complaint, Harrison left the company four years later and Douglass Kopp (“Kopp”) entered the company as CEO and Managing Member. F.F.T. claims it was formed to pursue the same efforts as FFT, Inc., which was subsequently administratively dissolved.

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued an opinion reversing the denial of attorney’s fees, remanding for an entry BlogPhoto-300x96of a reasonable fee reward under 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a), and affirming all other aspects of the judgment of the district court in the case of 4SEMO.com Incorporated (“4SEMO”) versus Southern Illinois Storm Shelters, Inc. (“SISS”), et al. (collectively “Defendants”). While the Defendants originally sued 4SEMO in this case, the case was reconfigured as above for the July 2017 bench trial and decision, which was on appeal.

According to the opinion, 4SEMO began selling storm shelters manufactured by SISS in 2005. 4SEMO is a Missouri-based home-remodeling firm while Robert Ingoldsby and his brother Scott (the “Ingoldsbys”) run the Illinois based company, SISS. 4SEMO began marketing the storm shelters under a wordmark “Life Saver Storm Shelters” and a matching logo (the “Marks”) that it affixed to the shelters it sold in Missouri and Arkansas pursuant to an exclusive dealership agreement with SISS. The Ingoldsbys were granted a limited license to use the 4SEMO Marks for shelters marketed in southern Illinois. However, the Ingoldsbys violated the limited license by using the 4SEMO Marks on shelters sold throughout the country.

SISS sued 4SEMO for trademark infringement over the “Life Saver” wordmark, claiming they had used it prior to 4SEMO and that they had ownership of the wordmark. 4SEMO counterclaimed for trademark infringement and false endorsement, along with various state-law claims. After SISS’s claim did not survive summary judgement, 4SEMO’s counterclaims were tried to the bench and the district court found in favor of 4SEMO on all counts and awarded $17,371,003 in damages for profit disgorgement and $26,940 for breach of contract. However, 4SEMO’s motion for vexatious-litigation sanctions and attorney’s fees under 28 U.S.C. § 1927 and the Lanham Act, respectively, was denied.

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Fort Wayne, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, North American Van Lines, Inc. (“NAVL”) of Fort Wayne, Indiana, filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, Kettering Moving and Storage, Inc. (“Kettering”) of Dayton, Ohio, infringed its United States Trademark Registrations.

 

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NAVL is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions, profits, actual damages, costs and attorney’s fees, investigatory fees, and further relief the court deems appropriate.

NAVL claims it has been providing transportation services since 1933 and has been using the marks NORTH AMERICAN and NORTH AMERICAN VAN LINES in connection with those services for many years. According to the complaint, there are seven registered marks at issue in this case. NAVL claims it has licensed companies to act as NAVL Agents including the right to use NAVL’s registered marks, but it has been careful in limiting such licensing activities. NAVL asserts that through its use of its registered marks and the control it maintained in their use through licensing agreements, the registered marks have acquired a secondary meaning.

Per the complaint, Kettering provides moving and storage services throughout the world. NAVL claims it had an agency contract with Kettering prior to July 24, 2018 in which Kettering was allowed to use NAVL’s registered marks. However, NAVL asserts that it terminated that relationship through a letter sent to Kettering on July 24, 2018. After being informed Kettering was still utilizing NAVL’s registered marks, NAVL claims it informed Kettering to cease and desist on February 28, 2019. NAVL claims Kettering disregarded this cease and desist and continues to display NAVL’s registered marks on its vehicles and signs.

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Terre Haute, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiffs, Baskin-Robbins Franchising LLC, and BR IP Holder LLC (collectively “Baskin-Robbins”), both Delaware limited liability companies, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Big Scoops Inc. and David M. Glasgow, Jr., both of Terre Haute, Indiana breached their Franchise Agreement with Baskin-Robbins by failing to pay required fees. By continuing to operate, Defendants are infringing Baskin-Robbins’ trade dress and numerous registered trademarks.

logo2Baskin-Robbins Franchising is in the business of franchising independent businesses and people to operate Baskin-Robbins shops in the United States. The “Baskin-Robbins” trade name, trademark, and service mark are owned by BR IP Holder along with other related marks. Since October 14, 2015, Big Scoops has been the owner and operator of a Baskin-Robbins shop located in Terre Haute, Indiana pursuant to a Franchise Agreement with Baskin-Robbins. David M. Glasgow, Jr. personally guaranteed the obligations of Big Scoops under the Franchise Agreement.

Pursuant to its Franchise Agreement, Big Scoops was granted a license to use the trademarks, trade names, and trade dress of Baskin-Robbins, but only in the manner specified in the Franchise Agreement. The fees due to Baskin-Robbins from Big Scoops under the Franchise Agreement included a franchise fee equal to 5.9% of gross sales of the business, an advertising fee equal to 5.0% of gross sales of the business, late fees, interest, and costs on unpaid monies due under the Franchise Agreement, and all sums owing and any damages, interest, costs and expenses, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, incurred as a result of Big Scoops’ defaults. Under the Franchise Agreement, Big Scoops agreed that nonpayment of any of the required fees would be a default, that failure to pay within seven days after receiving written notice would be a continued default, and that receiving three notices of default within a twelve-month period would result in Baskin Robbins having the right to terminate the Franchise Agreement.

Plaintiffs sent Big Scoop three separate notices that it was in default of the Franchise Agreement for nonpayment on June 19, 2018, October 9, 2018, and December 7, 2018. As a result of these defaults and failure to cure after the December 7, 2018 notice, Baskin-Robbins sent Big Scoop a Notice of Termination with respect to the franchised business on February 12, 2019. Since receiving the Notice of Termination, Defendants have continued to operate the Baskin-Robbins shop and have used the Baskin-Robbins marks without authorization. Baskin-Robbins is claiming breach of contract, trademark infringement pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1114, unfair competition pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a), and trade dress infringement pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1125.

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