Articles Posted in Declaratory Judgments

donna-chandler-800x760-1-300x285-1Kenneth Zweigel, Content & Commerce, Inc., Kevin Detrude, and My K9 Behaves, LLC, the Defendants, filed a Notice of Removal from Hamilton County Superior Court 4 to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana for a lawsuit originally filed by Show Colors, Inc., Donna Chandler and Derivative Plaintiff My K9 Behaves, LLC, the Plaintiffs. According to the Notice, the Southern District has jurisdiction pursuant to the Copyright Act, Lanham Act, and the Declaratory Relief Act (28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202).

Apparently, the Plaintiffs’ Complaint alleges and “seeks relief regarding the proper owner of various copyrights, trademarks, and the derivative works related thereto.” Therefore, the Defendants claim the “action cannot be adjudicated without the interpretation of federal laws of the United States.”

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donna-chandler-800x760-1-300x285-1-150x150Indianapolis, Indiana – According to the Complaint, Donna Chandler (“Chandler”), one of the Defendants and owner of Co-Defendant, Show Colors, Inc. (“Show Colors”), is the author of a canine training book called “Good Dog!” Apparently, Chandler along with Plaintiffs, Kevin DeTrude (“DeTrude”) and Content & Commerce, Inc. (“Content” and collectively “Plaintiffs”), are members of nominal defendant, My K9 Behaves LLC (“My K9”). Content is allegedly in the business of website development and marketing and is owned by Keneth Zweigel (“Zweigel”). Per the Complaint, Chandler, DeTrude, and Zweigel began working on an online instruction course based upon two books written by Chandler (the “Online Class”) in January 2016. The parties apparently also discussed converting the text-based course to a video format.

Two videos were allegedly recorded and paid for by DeTrude in 2016 with a script for a third video written around February 2017. It appears Chandler, Content, and DeTrude officially formed their business on April 4, 2017, but the parties did not execute an Operating Agreement for the business until mid-June 2017, which included clauses assigning all common law and registered trademark and copyrights, including Chandler’s books and the publishing rights to My K9 (the “Assigned Rights”). Upon dissolution or the termination of Chandler’s ownership in My K9, the Assigned Rights would allegedly revert back to Chandler. According to the Complaint, shortly after the Operating Agreement was executed, a third video was recorded and paid for by Zweigel.

As My K9 was experiencing apparent success, the company entered into a Publishing Agreement for a third book to be written by Chandler with the rights assigned to My K9. Allegedly due to the length of time spent writing the book, the first Publishing Agreement was revoked, and a Second Publishing Agreement was put in place. The Plaintiffs claim Chandler then began demanding a greater portion of the profits and ultimately decided if the rights to the third book were not in her name only, she simply would not publish the third book. Chandler then apparently informed DeTrude and Content that she was withdrawing her membership in My K9 and demanded they cease and desist using her name or likeness and re-assign the Assigned Rights back to her.

DeTrude and Content are seeking a declaratory judgment of copyright and trademark ownership “including any derivative or original intellectual property created by or on behalf of My K9. Further, to the extent the Plaintiffs own any of the copyrighted works, they allege Chandler and Show Colors have infringed those works by profiting off the sale of the works individually and not for the benefit of My K9. To the extent Plaintiffs own any trademarks, they are similarly claiming trademark infringement. Plaintiffs have also brought derivative and direct claims for breach of fiduciary duty, usurpation of corporate opportunities, theft and conversion pursuant to I.C. § 35-43-4-3. Finally, Plaintiffs are claiming breach of contract for Defendants’ alleged breach of the Operating Agreement.

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Fort Wayne, Indiana – JetPro Pilots, LLC, the Plaintiff, apparently recruit, staff, and provide pilots, flight attendants, and technicians to its clients for use on their aircrafts. According to the Complaint, Defendants, Jet Pro, Inc. and Keith Kenneally, offer freight brokerage and forwarding services. The Defendants allegedly sent a cease and desist letter to JetPro Pilots claiming JetPro Pilots was violating Defendants’ U.S. Registration No. 3,186,308 (the “Jet Pro, Inc. Mark”). JetPro Pilots claims to have been in business since 2009 with the first allegation relating to confusion arising out of its use of the phrase “Jet Pro” coming from Defendants in July 2020, with no actual consumer confusion in the eleven years of co-existence.

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Believing this to be a credible threat of immediate litigation, JetPro Pilots filed suit for a declaratory judgment for unenforceability of a trademark and a declaration of non-infringement pursuant to the Trademark Laws of the United States and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202. JetPro Pilots asserts in favor of declaratory judgment that the parties’ logos are dissimilar and the parties provide different goods and services making consumer confusion unlikely.

 

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Eli Lilly and Company (“Lilly”) filed suit on November 13, 2019 in the Southern District of Indiana against Defendant SensorRx seeking a declaratory judgment that it had not misappropriated trade secrets among other things. SensorRx in turn, on November 22, 2019 filed a lawsuit in the Western District of North Carolina seeking injunctive relief and monetary damages. SensorRx then filed a Motion to Dismiss or to Transfer Lilly’s declaratory action suit to North Carolina.

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The Southern District found Lilly’s declaratory action was an “improper anticipatory filing” as there was a clear threat of litigation prior to the filing of the declaratory action. As such, the Court declined to exercise its discretion to hear the declaratory judgment action. The Court further found that the balance of factors under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) weighed in favor of transferring the action to the Western District of North Carolina where SensorRx filed its suit. Therefore, SensorRx’s Motion to Transfer was granted and the case was transferred to the Western District of North Carolina. Continue reading

Evansville, Indiana – According to the Complaint, DMI Sports, Inc. (“DMI”) entered into an Asset Purchase and License Agreement (the “Purchase Agreement”) with Arachnid, Inc. (“Arachnid”) to purchase Arachnid’s “Consumer Products Line” of dart related products in 1999. Along with the Purchase Agreement, DMI allegedly obtained a Trademark License to make and sell consumer goods under the ARACHNID trademarks (the “Licensed Marks”). Under the Purchase Agreement, Arachnid allegedly retained the ARACHNID name and trademarks to sell dart products commercially. Indian Industries, Inc. d/b/a Escalade Sports (“Escalade”), the Plaintiff, claims to have acquired DMI in 2013 along with the Trademark License. Escalade claims Arachnid 360, the Defendant, is the successor in interest to Arachnid.

Escalade claims that Arachnid 360 began promoting a consumer dart game under the Licensed Marks around August 2015. While Arachnid 360 apparently claimed to have no knowledge of the Purchase Agreement, once it reviewed the Purchase Agreement, Arachnid 360 claimed Escalade was in violation of the Quality Control section for failure to provide samples of new products. Escalade claims after it provided samples to Arachnid 360, the company did not pursue their claims Escalade breached the Purchase Agreement. About four years later in January 2020, Arachnid 360 allegedly sent a letter to Escalade claiming Escalade had materially breached the Purchase Agreement. After responding that it had not breached the Purchase Agreement, Escalade claims Arachnid 360 sent it a letter purporting to terminate the Trademark License.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling that Flexible Steel Lacing Co.’s (“Flexco”) trade dress is invalid because it is functional.

Flexco originally filed suit in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division for trade dress infringement and unfair competition against Conveyor Accessories, Inc. (“CAI”). CAI counterclaimed seeking cancellation of Flexco’s trademarks and seeking declaratory judgment of invalidity, unenforceability, and noninfringement. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of CAI, finding that Flexco’s trade dress was functional because the product’s utilitarian advantages were disclosed in an expired utility patent, internal corporate documents, and advertising materials.

This case was before Chief Judge, Diane Wood, Judge Joel Flaum and Judge Kenneth Ripple assigned Appeal No. 19-2035 and was decided April 7, 2020.

Lafayette, IndianaLafayette Venetian Blind, Inc. (“LVB”), the Plaintiff, claims it has developed substantial goodwill in connection with its distinctive U.S. Trademark Registration No. 3537759 for the word “Allure” for use in connection with window blinds and treatements. LVB claims that Defendant, Blinds to Go (U.S.), Inc. (“Blinds to Go”), uses the term “Allure” “to sell competing goods to many of the same consumers served by LVB.” According to the Complaint, LVB has demanding Blinds to Go cease and desist from using the “Allure” mark in connection with Blinds to Go’s window treatments, but it has failed to do so.

As such, LVB is seeking declaratory relief that it has superior rights to the term “Allure” and has the right to use the term “Allure” throughout the United States for “manufacturing, designing, and selling window treatments, blinds, shades, and related products and services.” Further, LVB is seeking damages for trademark infringement and unfair competition and false designation of origin under the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. § 1114 and 15 U.S.C.A. § 1125(a), respectively). Finally, LVB is claiming damages for common law trademark infringement and passing off/unfair competition.

The case was assigned to Judge Phillip P. Simon and Magistrate Judge John E. Martin in the Northern District and assigned Case 4:20-cv-00021-PPS-JEM.

South Bend, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Williamsburg Furniture, Inc. (“Williamsburg”) of Nappanee, Indiana originally filed suit in the District Court of Delaware seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement against Defendant, Lippert Components, Inc. (“Lippert”) claiming Lippert’s United States Patent No. 8,739,330 (the “‘330 Patent”) is invalid and/or unenforceable. Williamsburg is also seeking judgment for false advertising and unfair competition as it claims Lippert informed Williamsburg’s customers of the alleged patent infringement and caused Williamsburg to lose sales. Upon motion by Lippert, the case was transferred to the Northern District of Indiana.

According to the Complaint, the invention claimed in the ‘330 Patent for a tri-fold sofa was publicly disclosed, in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public through third parties not associated with the ‘330 invention more than one year prior to the filing of the provisional patent application. For instance, Patrick Hutmacher claims he purchased a tri-fold chair/bed in August 2010 from a furniture store in McHenry. One month later, a person from the McHenry furniture store allegedly brought a second tri-fold chair/bed to Mr. Hutmacher at his place of employment, Flair Interiors, Inc. (“Flair”), in an attempt to supply the products to the company.

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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

Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, CityMoms, Inc. (“CityMoms”) incorporated in the State of Delaware, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana seeking a declaratory judgment that its use of “CityMoms” does not infringe the rights of Defendant, theCityMoms Greater Indianapolis LLC (“theCityMoms”) of Indianapolis, TheCityMoms-TM-BlogPhoto-300x75Indiana, or theCityMoms’ Trademark Registration No. 4,588,132 (the “‘132 Registration”) for “theCityMoms”. In the alternative, if there is a likelihood of confusion found between the two parties’ marks, CityMoms is claiming its use of the term predates that of theCityMoms. As such, CityMoms is seeking declaratory judgment of non-infringement, and in the alternative, injunctive relief, judgment including statutory damages, and attorneys’ fees.

According to the complaint, CityMoms conducts business online and offers, among other things, a mobile app and software system “that helps local businesses book unused spots in their kids’ activities programs and family events.” TheCityMoms is alleged to provide “a sisterhood for the modern mom” that offers a support network for moms, events and activities, and an official membership. CityMoms claims that theCityMoms has threatened to take action against it for trademark infringement and unfair competition and has interfered with CityMoms’ ability to sell its app to a third party.

CityMoms’ services are alleged to have begun in 2012 with theCityMoms filing its application for the ‘132 Registration on January 2, 2014. This application was given Serial No. 86156171 (the “‘171 Application”) and was filed for the goods and services of International Class 041, which includes “Educational and entertainment services, namely, providing motivational and educational speakers; Organizing, arranging, and conducting playdates, mom-only evenings, open play times, shopping parties, fitness classes, volunteering and cultural events”. The ‘171 Application was submitted with a statement by Melissa Kondritz and Jeanine Bobenmoyer that “theCityMoms” was used in commerce and related with the company at least as early as March 1, 2013. However, CityMoms claims that the domain name http://thecitymoms.org/ was not registered until March 8, 2013 and therefore could not have existed prior to that date. CityMoms further claims it has found no evidence theCityMoms provided motivational and educational speakers on or before January 2, 2014 as part of its business and therefore, the ‘171 Application was filed with “willfully false material statements that constituted fraud” and should make the ‘132 Registration invalid and unenforceable.

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