Articles Posted in False Designation of Origin

South Bend, IndianaJudge Robert L. Miller, Jr. of the Northern District of Indiana dismissed claims concerning trade dress infringement.

In this Indiana trademark lawsuit, Forest River, Inc. of Elkhart, Indiana sued Winnebago Industries, Inc. of Forest City, Iowa and its subsidiary Winnebago of Indiana, LLC alleging trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, unfair competition, false designation of origin, and false and misleading representations.

Overhauser Law Offices, LLC filed a partial motion to dismiss with the court, arguing that Forest River had neither sufficiently identified the features that constituted the claimed trade dress nor provided any factual support for its assertion that such features were non-functional.

The court noted that “to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678.  The claim is deemed plausible if “the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.

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In this litigation, such a showing required that Forest River define its trade dress.  It must also plead sufficient facts to show that the claimed trade dress is nonfunctional, has acquired secondary meaning and that a likelihood of confusion exists between its trade dress and Winnebago’s trade dress.

The court agreed with Winnebago, concluding that Plaintiff had relied on “conclusory and meaningless” assertions in its pleadings. Consequently, it granted Winnebago’s motion and dismissed without prejudice Forest River’s claims concerning trade dress infringement under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §1125(a) as well as similar claims made under common law.

Overhauser Law Offices represented Winnebago in obtaining this successful order dismissing the trade dress claims.

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EconoLodge-Lafayaette-300x170Lafayette, IndianaChoice Hotels International, Inc. of Rockville, Maryland sued in the Northern District of Indiana alleging trademark infringement under federal and Indiana law.

Choice Hotels is in the business of franchising hotels.  It offers hotel and motel services under the following brands: CAMBRIA HOTELS & SUITES®, COMFORT INN®, COMFORT SUITES®, QUALITY®, SLEEP IN®, CLARION®, MAINSTAY SUITES®, SUBURBAN EXTENDED STAY HOTEL®, ECONO LODGE®, and RODEWAY INN®.

At issue in this Indiana trademark litigation is the Econo Lodge family of trademarks.  These trademarks include U.S. Trademark Nos.:

Evansville, IndianaHenager Family Museum, Inc d/b/a National Veterans Memorial of Buckskin, Indiana filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging trademark infringement.

Plaintiff operates a military memorial in Indiana under the trademark “NATIONAL VETERANS MEMORIAL,” U.S. Trademark Registration No. 3,420,974.  That trademark was filed “in connection Veterans-300x126with promoting public awareness of the need for reconciliation and recognition by all veterans” and was issued on April 29, 2008 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

In this Indiana litigation, Henager states that Columbus Downtown Development Corp. (“CDDC”) of Columbus, Ohio is currently developing a museum, scheduled to open in 2018, to be operated under the name “NATIONAL VETERANS MEMORIAL & MUSEUM.”  Henager states that CDDC’s use of this name in a state adjoining Indiana, and in conjunction with the offering of the same type of services, is likely to cause confusion or deceive consumers.   It also contends that CDDC’s use of the purportedly similar name has resulted in CDDC being unjustly enriched at Henager’s expense.

Fort Wayne, Indiana – Super 8 Worldwide, Inc. f/k/a Super 8 Motels, Inc. of Parsippany, New Jersey sued in the Northern District of Indiana alleging trademark infringement and other wrongdoings.

Plaintiff Super 8 operates a franchise system for guest lodging.  It claims ownership to the SUPER 8® service mark as well as various related trade names, trademarks and serviceUntitled-1 marks, some of which have been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  It estimates the value of the entity’s goodwill to exceed hundreds of millions of dollars.

In this Indiana intellectual property lawsuit, Super 8 alleges that former franchisees have violated the terms of a franchise agreement entered into with Super 8.  Three Indianapolis Defendants were listed: Auburn Lodging Associates, LLP (“ALA”), Kokila Patel and Dilip Patel.  A fourth Defendant Chicago Capital Holdings, LLC (“CCH”) of Hinsdale, Illinois was also named.

Indianapolis, Indiana – Plaintiffs Acushnet Company of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, Roger Cleveland Golf Company, Inc. of Huntington Beach, California and Dunlop Sports Co. Ltd. of Hyogo, Japan filed a trademark lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana.  This intellectual property litigation, commenced by an Indiana trademark litigator for Plaintiffs, was filed against both an individual and a business entity.

Listed as Defendants in this lawsuit are Giorgio Nunns a/k/a George Nunns a/k/a Georgie Nunns a/k/a Giorgio, an individual, and Custom Golf Solutions, LLC, individually and jointly, doing business under the names “bogie’s nearly new golf,” “gnunns81” and “golfcustomsolutions15.”  Defendants operate in Indianapolis and Carmel, Indiana.

Defendants are accused of engaging in the sale of counterfeit products and infringing upon Plaintiffs’ trademarks.  The following trademarks, to which Acushnet claims ownership and/or an exclusive license, are at issue:

Trademark Registration No. Registration Date Class/Goods
 Tiltleist 1,155,766 26 May 1981 IC 28: golf equipment, namely golf balls, golf clubs and golf bags.
 T 3,376,961 5 February 2008 IC 24: golf towels

IC 25: golf clothing, namely jackets, shirts, hats and visors.

IC 28: golf equipment, namely golf putters, golf club head covers, golf club grips and divot tools.

 crown 2,620,432 17 September 2002 IC 28: golf clubs and accessories, namely golf tees, golf gloves, golf bags, golf putters, golf drivers, golf woods, golf irons, golf green repair tools, golf club covers and golf bag covers.
 ScottCameron 3,421,373 6 May 2008 IC 28: golf equipment, namely golf bags.

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Evansville, Indiana – Richard Litov of Evansville, Indiana sued Freedom Heritage Museum, Inc., of Evansville, Indiana alleging trademark infringement.  Litov asserts claims under both federal and Indiana law.Freedom

Litov claims that he conceived the idea for the museum – a collection of exhibits and artifacts from the World War II era – as well as the museum’s name, stating that he served as its founding president and a founding board member.  He asserts that the museum used the trademarked name pursuant to permission that he granted “as president and board member” of the museum.

The trademark in question has been registered under Litov’s name as U.S. Trademark Registration No. 4,939,292.  Litov states in his complaint that the registration covers the words FREEDOM HERITAGE MUSEUM and an associated design.  The word portion of the trademark, as listed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website, is FREEDOM HERITAGE MUSEUM, EST. 2012, EVANSVILLE INDIANA.  The application for the trademark registration was filed on July 6, 2015 and granted on April 19, 2016.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Plaintiff Heartland Consumer Products LLC of Carmel, Indiana filed an intellectual property lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging trademark and trade dress infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition under the Lanham Act, as well as related wrongdoing under the Indiana State Trademark Act, the common law of the State of Indiana and the Indiana Crime Victims Act.  The intellectual property at issue pertains to Splenda®, a Heartland trademark under which it offers sucralose, a low-calorie sweetener.

Defendants in the litigation are Dunkin’ Brands, Inc. and Dunkin’ Donuts Franchised Restaurants LLC Untitled-1-300x102of Canton, Massachusetts.  They are accused of “deceiving customers into believing the Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants carry Splenda® Brand Sweetener,” by both tacitly and affirmatively misrepresenting that the non-Splenda sucralose product that the Dunkin’ Defendants offer is, in fact, Heartland’s Splenda.  Plaintiff contends that consumers were confused about whether the sweetener that the Dunkin’ Defendants offered was Splenda and that some have complained that adding the other sweetener to their Dunkin’ Donuts products imparted a “funny taste.”

Defendants discontinued their agreement to purchase and offer Heartland’s Splenda in April 2016.  According to the Indiana complaint, following that decision, Defendants began offering sweetener in yellow packets similar to the single-serving packets in which Splenda is offered to the public.  Plaintiff contends that, when asked, Defendants in a “clear majority of stores affirmatively represented, through their agents or employees, that non-Splenda® sucralose sweetener was instead Splenda® Brand Sweetener.”  Plaintiff further contends that Dunkin’ Defendants are misappropriating Plaintiff’s trademarked “Sweet Swaps®” by the use of a similar term “Smart Swaps.”

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Plaintiff Delicato Vineyards of Manteca, California filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging trademark infringement and other wrongdoing. Defendant is Gnarly Grove Cider Co. of Columbus, Indiana.

Plaintiff Delicato claims ownership to two trademarks, U.S. Trademark Registration No. 3165707 for GNARLY HEAD, and U.S. Trademark Registration No. 4777145 for a design trademark. It offers Gnarly Head wine products for sale using these trademarks.

Defendant Gnarly Grove recently launched Gnarly Grove hard cider. Plaintiff contends that both the name and the trade dress of this product are confusingly similar to its Gnarly Head wine. It asserts that the similarities appear to be an intentional effort on the part of Defendant to capitalize on the reputation of the GNARLY HEAD brand.

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In this lawsuit, filed by Indiana trademark attorneys for Delicato, the following causes of action are alleged:

• Registered Trademark and Trade Dress Infringement -15 U.S.C. § 1114(1)
• False Designation of Origin -15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)

• Common Law Unfair Competition

Plaintiff is seeking equitable relief, damages, costs and attorneys’ fees.

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Untitled-1-300x194Indianapolis, Indiana – Trademark attorneys for Plaintiff The American Automobile Association, Inc. (“AAA”) filed a trademark lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana. Two Bloomington Defendants are named, AAA Automotive Parts and Michael Waller, the company’s owner. Defendants also do business as AAA Automotive & Truck Parts, and Waller Automotive Group d/b/a AAA Automotive Parts.

AAA, a not-for-profit corporation, offers “travel and automobile products and services (including automobile repair services at its AAA Car Care Centers and through AAA Approved automobile repair businesses), financial advice, insurance and warranty coverage, and discounts.”

Defendants own and run a website, TRIPLEAPARTS.COM, on which they advertise automobile-related goods and services. Defendants also have brick-and-mortar shops in Indianapolis and Griffith, Indiana as well as locations in Missouri and Florida.

In this Indiana trademark lawsuit, lawyers for AAA listed the following causes of action:

• Count I: Federal Trademark Infringement in Violation of Section 32 of the Lanham Act
• Count II: Federal False Designation of Origin and Unfair Competition in Violation of Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act
• Count III: Federal Trademark Dilution in Violation of Section 43(c) of the Lanham Act
• Count IV: Cybersquatting Under Section 43(d) of the Lanham Act
• Count V: Trademark Dilution Under Ind. Code § 24-2-1-13.5
• Count VI: Trademark Infringement Under Ind. Code § 24-2-1-13

• Count VII: Unfair Competition and Trademark Infringement Under Common Law

AAA, which claims ownership to over 100 trademarks, contends that the following trademarks are at issue in this lawsuit:

Reg. No. 829,265

AAA Mark, used in connection with a
variety of automobile association services and emergency roadside services

Reg. No. 2,158,654

AAA & Design Mark, used in
connection with a variety of automobile association services and emergency roadside
services

Reg. No. 3,316,227

AAA & Design Mark, used in
connection with “[i]ndicating membership in a(n) automobile membership
club”

Reg. No. 1,168,790

TRIPLE A Mark, used in connection
with a variety of automobile association services

Reg. No. 3,046,904

AAA Mark, used in connection with
repair services

Reg. No. 3,046,905

AAA & Design Mark, used in
connection with repair services

Reg. No. 3,102,319

AAA & Design Mark, used in
connection with vehicle parts

Reg. No. 5,036,379

AAA Mark & Design, used in
connection with a variety of automobile association services and emergency
roadside services

Reg. No. 1,449,079

AAA APPROVED AUTO REPAIR & Design
Mark, used in connection with automobile repair services

Reg. No. 3,604,164

AAA TOTAL REPAIR CARE Mark, used in connection
with auto diagnosis and repair services

 

AAA seeks damages and asks that those damages be trebled pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1117 and Indiana law. It also seeks equitable relief, costs and attorneys’ fees.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Plaintiff Mecca Companies Inc. d/b/a Annex Student Living of Indianapolis, Indiana filed a trademark infringement complaint in the Southern District of Indiana against Defendant Trinitas Ventures LLC of Lafayette, Indiana.

Mecca offers student-housing services in three states, including Indiana and Ohio, under THE ANNEX or ANNEX. It states that it began to use ANNEX to identify its student housing in 2013 but makes no mention of having received a federal or state trademark registration.

Mecca contends that Trinitas offers competing services in an Ohio student-housing property using the name ANNEX and asserts that this use is likely to cause consumer confusion. In this federal lawsuit, brought by Indiana trademark attorneys for Mecca, the following causes of action are listed:

• Count I: Trademark Infringement and Unfair Competition Under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)
• Count II: Violation of Ohio Deceptive Trade Practices Act, ORC 4165.02

• Count III: Common Law Unfair Competition under Ohio Law

Mecca seeks damages, including punitive damages, along with injunctive relief, costs and attorneys’ fees.

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