Articles Posted in New Litigation

Image-IngridBergmanRoseNew Albany, IndianaPoulsen Roser A/S (“Poulsen”), the Plaintiff, is a family-owned company allegedly world-famous for breeding distinctive rose varieties. Apparently due to this notoriety, Poulsen obtains patent and trademark protection for its roses throughout the world, including the United States. According to the Complaint, Poulsen developed a unique currant red hybrid tea rose variety branded with the trademark INGRID BERGMAN (the “Mark”) in the early 1980s.  In addition to being a world-renowned rose and receiving numerous awards, the INGRID BERGMAN rose was apparently inducted into the World Federation of Rose Societies’ Rose Hall of Fame in 2000.

Poulsen claims the Mark, protected under U.S. Federal Trademark Reg. No. 2,990,814 (the “‘814 Registration”), has been used in U.S. commerce continuously since 1986.  Pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1057(b), Poulsen claims the ‘814 Registration is prima facie evidence of the validity of the Mark, Poulsen’s ownership of the Mark, and Poulsen’s exclusive right to use the Mark in commerce. Only Poulsen possesses the consent of the heirs of the actress Ingrid Bergman to use her name in connection with roses.

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johnson-controls-300x131South Bend, Indiana – Apparently the Plaintiff, Johnson Controls Technology Company (“Johnson”), is a technology holding company for its parent company Johnson Controls International, plc (“JCI”). Johnson claims it owns multiple utility and design patents including those at issue in this case, U.S. Patent Nos. 11,022,332, 10,684,029, 10,528,013, 8,826,165, 8,190,728, D788,785, D924,888, D924,890 (collectively, “Asserted Patents”).

According to the Complaint, JCI, including Johnson, are competitors with Defendant, Kreuter Manufacturing Co., Inc. d/b/a KMC Controls, Inc. (“KMC”) in the field of building management systems, HVAC systems, and related technological solutions. Johnson claims KMC manufactures, uses, and sells devices, systems, and software that infringe the Asserted Patents. Namely, the KMC TotalControl software suite, the KMC Conquest line of controllers, the KMC ConnectLite software application, the KMC Commander automation platform, and the KMC Commander gateway devices (collectively, the “Accused Products”). Additionally, KMC allegedly “provides its customers with instructions, product information, and technical information, which instruct its customers to use its devices, systems, and software in infringing ways.”

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Apparently Sayre Berman (“Berman”), the Plaintiff, creates photographic images, which she licenses for various uses including online and print publications. Berman claims she took a photograph of Ray Luzier (the “Photograph”) on March 25, 2019 and registered that photograph with the U.S. Copyright Office under Registration No. VA 2-145-705.

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According to the Complaint, Berman observed a copy of the Photograph on Auralex Acoustics, Inc.’s (“Auralex”) website on July 13, 2021. Auralex, the Defendant, apparently also uploaded the Photograph to its Instagram and Facebook accounts. Berman claims because the Photograph was copied, stored, and displayed without license or permission, Auralex infringed on her copyrights. Further, the infringing posts each apparently included a URL “for a fixed tangible medium of expression that was sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be communicated for a period of more than transitory duration and therefore constitutes a specific infringement.”

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Apparently, Amy Haehl (“Haehl”), the Plaintiff, is a nationally renowned photography that promotes her work through her photography studio, Coffee Creek Studio. Haehl claims she first gained national notoriety in 2018 after she recreated scenes from “A Christmas Story” featuring a baby wearing pink bunny pajamas. Her work has apparently been featured on “Fox & Friends” and the websites for the “Today” show and “Good Morning America.”

Haehl claims that she drew inspiration from her previous success with using model babies to use photo editing software to add teeth to her infant subjects. According to the Complaint, she registered a series of those images with the U.S. Copyright Office as Group Reg. No. VA0002191510. Further, Haehl claims she posted a copyright notice alongside each photograph posted on her Facebook page.

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Ft. Wayne, Indiana – Phoenix Intangibles Holding Company apparently licenses the getGo® trademark to Giant Eagle, Inc. (together with Phoenix “Giant Eagle” or “Plaintiffs”) for its use in connection with its getGo® Convenience Stores. According to the Complaint, Giant Eagle acquired the Rickers convenience store chain in 2018 and eventually rebranded those stores under the getGo® marks. The acquired stores allegedly include four former Rickers stores in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Per the Complaint, Plaintiffs have used the getGo® trademark since at least March 2013 and have sought and secured federal trademark registrations for various getGo® trademarks and logos as set forth below (the “getGo® Marks”).

Mark U.S. Registration No.
GETGO 2,927,502
Picture3 4,864,242
4864240-PICTURE 4,864,240
getGo 4,766,055
Picture3 4,864,437
4864240-PICTURE 4,864,438
getGo 5,037,377
Picture3 5,038,064
4864240-PICTURE 5,037,370
Get To Know GetGo 5,991,999
getGo 6,158,214
Picture3 6,158,213

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Indianapolis, Indiana – The Plaintiff, Van Ausdall & Farrar, Inc. (“VAF”), is apparently one of Indiana’s oldest privately owned office-solutions companies. According to the Complaint, Defendant, Jane Doe aka Denise Gilbey Moe (“Defendant” or “Moe”), was employed by VAF until October 2018. Due to the nature of Moe’s position, she was allegedly granted access to VAF’s social media accounts including its Facebook page during her employment. VAF claims its Facebook page has economic value as it uses the page to market and promote its products and services. Apparently, Moe’s access to VAF’s social media accounts ended when her employment was terminated on October 4, 2018.

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Per the Complaint, VAF’s Facebook page was accessed by Defendant on June 1, 2021 using an account with the name “Denise Gilbey Moe.” While Moe apparently denies accessing VAF’s Facebook after her termination, VAF claims the account appears to be owned and controlled by Moe.

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BlogPhoto-4-300x184Hammond, Indiana – Apparently, James E. Cross, the Plaintiff is the owner of three design patents for convertible t-shirt designs, U.S. Patent Nos. D/580,633, D/581,136, and D/341,471 (collectively, the “Patents in Suit”). Notably, it appears the ‘633 and ‘136 Patents are set to expire in November 2022, while the ‘471 Patent expired in November 2007 since the term for a design patent filed prior to May 13, 2015 is 14 years.

Cross claims Defendants, Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc., Walmart Inc., Kohl’s Inc., and Amazon, Inc. (collectively “Defendants”), have actively induced and contributorily infringed upon the Patents in Suit and his trade dress by importing, offering for sale, and/or selling t-shirts with his ornamental designs without his permission.

While the pro se Complaint is fairly short, Cross attached numerous exhibits not discussed in the Complaint including an order dismissing Cross’ case against Meijer, Inc. due to settlement and a Patent Trial and Appeal Board decision regarding the ‘471 Patent. Further attached are black and white photos of zip-up bike jerseys allegedly being sold by Defendants.

Cross is seeking an accounting of damages, costs, expenses, and reasonable attorney’s fees pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 285.

Practice Tip: The current design patent term, if filed on or after May 13, 2015 is 15 years from the date of grant. 35 U.S.C. § 173.

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BlogPhoto-Chapelle-201x300Hammond, Indiana – Pro se Plaintiff, Xavier Gatewood (“Gatewood”) claims to perform comedy in the Chicago area. Between 2014 and 2015, Gatewood claims Defendant, David Khari Webber Chappelle (“Chappelle”), saw him performing comedy at one or more of four places located within two miles of Chappelle’s movie shoot for “CHI-RAQ.”

According to the Complaint, Chappelle then used material from Gatewood’s performance in Chappelle’s standup special “Deep in the Heart of Texas” on Netflix. As Chappelle was allegedly paid $20 Million and the joke was exactly one minute long, Gatewood is seeking $303,030.30.

Unfortunately, the very short Complaint does not disclose the allegedly stolen joke and does not disclose or specifically allege any copyright registration or infringement. Further, while Gatewood lives in Indiana, the alleged theft took place in Illinois and Chappelle lives in Ohio, so jurisdiction may be another hurdle for Gatewood. Continue reading

BlogPhoto-1-300x196South Bend, Indiana – Apparently Egglife Foods, Inc. (“Egglife”), the Plaintiff, sell ready-to-eat wraps that are made with cage-free egg whites instead of flour (“egglife egg white wraps”). Introduced in 2019, founder Peggy Johns claims to have invented egglife egg white wraps, using a now patented method (U.S. Patent No. 10,194,669). Egglife claims its egglife egg white wraps are available in over 3,500 retail locations throughout the United States and have garnered a loyal following of passionate consumers. Since 2019, Egglife has allegedly invested $5 million dollars in the Egglife brand and is on pace to reach $30 million in retail sales in 2021. According to the complaint, Egglife products have a distinct packaging including a unique combination of shapes, colors, text font, a center window, and accent elements that act as a source identifier to its consumers (the “Trade Dress”).

The Defendant, Crepini, LLC (“Crepini”), was apparently founded in 2007 with “the dream of bringing crepes into every North American household.” Crepini allegedly sold its egg white thins products in at least three different packaging styles from early 2018 through 2019. Per the Complaint, Crepini owns U.S. Trademark Registration Nos. 5,888,044 and 5,447,364 for “Egg Thins” and “Egg White Thins,” respectively. Egglife claims Crepini rebranded yet again and announced an extensive packaging overhaul including changing the name of the product to “egg wraps” on January 1, 2021.

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Picture1-2-300x188Indianapolis,  Indiana – Apparently the Plaintiff, Social Positioning Input Systems, LLC (“Social”), is the owner by assignment of U.S. Patent No. 9,261,365 (the “‘365 Patent”). The ‘365 Patent is titled “Device, System and Method for Remotely Entering, Storing and Sharing Addresses for a Positional Information Device.” Social claims Netsoft Holdings, LLC (“Netsoft”), the Defendant, has infringed on at least Claim 1 of the ‘365 Patent by making, using, selling, and/or offering for sale associated hardware and software for asset locating (the “Product”). For example, the Product may include Netsoft’s Hubstaff asset tracking platform and any associated hardware, apps, or other software.

According to the Complaint, the Product provides an asset tracking system for real-time GPS tracking of assets that the user can see on a positional information device (i.e., a mobile device or computer). The Product apparently allows an organization’s owner and managers to track their staff’s location, review their previous routes, and display time stamps showing where users were at a specified time along their route. Because Social claims the Product infringes on at least Claim 1 of the ‘365 Patent, it is seeking damages for patent infringement pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 284.

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