Articles Posted in Trade Dress

Hammond; IN – Trademark attorneys for Mortar Net of Burns Harbor, Indiana filed a trademark infringement suit in alleging Keene Building Products of Mayfield Heights, Ohio infringed trademark registration nos. 3,571,383 and 3,571,384, which have been registered with the US Trademark Office.

Mortar designs and sells construction products and building materials. One of its products is called Mortar Net and has been sold by the company since 1993 for use in masonry. The mark in question is associated with the Mortar Net product. The Mortar Net’s dovetail shape has industry tm.jpgrecognition, and the shape has been registered as a trademark. The complaint alleges that Keene is offering products for sale that infringe Mortar’s trademarks on Keene’s website. Keene’s allegedly infringing product is called Keystone. The complaint makes claims of trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, false designation of origin, and unfair competition. Mortar seeks an injunction, an order requiring the destruction of all of Keene’s keystone products, damages, attorney fees and costs.

Practice Tip: The trademarked image is simply a black colored shape. It doesn’t seem to indicate any particular brand or product. There are likely issues about whether the trademark of the shape can be validly enforced.

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Indianapolis; IN – The Southern District of Indiana has granted partial summary judgment that dismisses many of Patricia Fuller a/k/a Sister Joseph Therese’s claims in a lawsuit over the physical and intellectual property rights to certain images and statues of the Virgin Mary,Thumbnail image for OurLadyofAmerica.jpg which are titled Our Lady of America. Intellectual property attorneys for Kevin B. McCarthy of Indianapolis, Indiana, Albert H. Langsenkamp, Carmel, Indiana and BVM Foundation, Inc. of Batesville, Indiana had filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana making several claims against Patricia Ann Fuller, also known as Sister Joseph Therese of Fostoria, Ohio and John Doe of Ohio. Ms. Fuller apparently has counterclaimed claiming trademark and copyright ownership of the copyrighted work OUR LADY OF AMERICA.

The court’s partial judgment dismisses Fuller’s defamation, RICO and trade dress claims as well as her copyright claims that do not relate to the copyrighted works VAu000297438, VA0000643362 and TXu000366731, which have been registered by the US Copyright Office. The court also stayed the litigation, pending a resolution from the Catholic Church of “the status/ownership of ecclesiastical property and property rights arising while Sister Ephrem was a nun[.]”

This case has convoluted facts and procedural issues. We have previously blogged about the case here.

Practice Tip: It looks like the copyright claims are going to turn on whether Ms. Fuller or the Catholic Church is the owner of the copyrights. The records of the US Copyright Office indicate that “Sister Mildred Mary Neuzil” is the copyright claimant.

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Indianapolis; IN – Trademark lawyers for Coach Inc. of New York, New York filed a trademark and copyright infringement suit in the Southern District of Indianaalleging Kristy Davidson d/b/a Kristy’s Trends of Greenfield, Indiana infringed the Coach’sCoach.jpg registered trademarks and copyrights, including the copyrighted works known as the “Coach Design Elements” including the SIGNATURE C DESIGNS, Registration No. VAu1-046658, COACH 70th ANNIVERSARY SNAPHEAD PRINT Registration No. VA1-010-918, and COACH CLOVER DESIGN, which have been registered by the US Copyright Office, and approximately fifty trademarks that have been registered by the US Trademark Office.

The complaint alleges that Ms. Davidson is designed, distributed, sold, promoted and offered for sale products that bear the Coach marks and copyrights without authorization from Coach. Essentially, Coach claims the Ms. Davidson is offering counterfeit Coach products for sale. The complaint alleges that on November 7, 2011, a Coach Representative visited Kristy’s Trends in Greenfield, Indiana and purchased a handbag bearing the Coach marks, but that was not an authentic Coach handbag. The complaint alleges that the representative saw 20 additional handbags, six wallets, and a pair of boots bearing the Coach marks that was offered for sale. The complaint states that Coach’s trademark attorneys sent a cease and desist letter to Ms. Davidson thereafter. In response, Ms. Davidson surrendered handbags, wallets, sunglasses and boots bearing the Coach marks.

The complaint makes claims of copyright infringement, trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, false designation of origin, false advertising, trademark dilution, unfair competition, forgery and counterfeiting. Coach seeks an injunction, damages of $2,000,000 per counterfeit mark, actual and punitive damages, costs and attorney fees.

Practice Tip: Coach has been very aggressive in protecting its intellectual property rights in Indiana courts in the last year. Coach’s intellectual property attorneys have filed eight similar lawsuits in Indiana courts, which Indiana Intellectual Property Law and News has blogged and that are linked below.
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Indianapolis, Indiana – A trademark infringement case in the Southern District of Indiana has recently settled. In May 2010, intellectual property counsel for Coach, Inc. and Coach Services, Inc., both of New York, NY, had filed an infringement suit alleging Novelty, Inc. of Greenfield, IN, has infringed numerous COACH trademarks which have been registered with the U.S. Trademark Office, as well as infringed copyrighted design elements and product trade dress. The case was blogged about by Indiana Intellectual Property Law and News. The case has recently been dismissed from the court’s docket with a notice that an undisclosed settlement had been reached.

Coach’s trademark attorneys had accused Novelty of offering products bearing source-identifying indicia and design elements which are “studied imitations” of the plaintiffs’ intellectual property. Novelty failed to file an answer to the complaint on time, and Coach obtained a default judgment in August 2010. Novelty then successfully petitioned the court to set aside the default judgment, arguing that it had not answered the complaint because settlement discussions were ongoing. The parties apparently had a discovery dispute relating to the extent to which a protective order concerning confidential information should be in place and whether certain disclosures should be limited to “attorney eyes only.” In July, Magistrate Baker sided with Coach in the discovery dispute noting “The Defendant has not shown sufficient cause for an “attorney’s eyes only” provision, and Defendant’s other objections, while not unreasonable, are not more compelling than Plaintiffs’ proposal.” The case has now been settled.

Practice Tip: In this case, Novelty argued that the default judgment should be set aside because settlement negotiations were ongoing at the time. Although Novelty successfully had the default set aside, other courts have not allowed this excuse for failing to file an answer or seek an extension of time. See U.S. v. Topeka Livestock Auction, Inc., 392 F.Supp. 944 (D.C. Ind. 1975). This illustrates the importance of complying with the deadline for answering a complaint, even if settlement seems likely.

This case was assigned to Chief Judge Richard L. Young and Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker in the Southern District of Indiana, and assigned case no. 1:10-cv-00615-RLY-TAB.

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Fort Wayne, IN – Trademark lawyers for James Buchanan and J.B. Custom, Inc. of Huntertown, Indiana filed a trademark infringement suit in Allen County, Indiana Superior Court alleging Henry Repeating Arms Company of Bayonne, New Jersey infringed trademark registration no. 3645700 for the mark MARE’S LEG, registered with the US Trademark Office. On September 20, 2011, the case was removed to the Northern District of Indiana upon motion of trademark attorneys for Henry Repeating Arms Company.

According to the complaint, J.B. Custom owns trade dress rights to unique shapes, designs, and appearances of certain pistols designs, including the “Mare’s Leg”Maresleg.jpg lever-action pistol. J.B. Custom advertises the Mare’s Leg pistol design using unique likenesses of Mr. James Buchanan in cowboy attire, including on its website www.maresleg.com. The complaint alleges that Henry’s 2011 catalog included advertisement for a product called “Henry’s Mare’s Leg.” The product advertisement also appeared on Henry’s website. The complaint alleges the Henry’s Mare’s Leg is virtually identical and confusingly similar to J.B. Custom’s product. The complaint also states that Henry has used Mr. Buchanan’s likeness in advertising the Henry’s Mare’s Leg. Trademark attorneys have made claims of misuse of publicity right relating to the unauthorized use of Mr. Buchanan’s likeness, trade dress infringement, false designation of origin, passing off, false advertising and unfair competition.

Practice Tip: In addition to trademark and trade dress claims, which are covered by the federal Lanham Act, the plaintiffs have made a claim under Indiana’s Right of Publicity law because the defendant has alleged used Mr. Buchanan’s likeness in advertisements without Mr. Buchanan’s permission. Indiana Intellectual Property Law News blogged about Indiana’s unique right to publicity law here. The right of publicity protects the right to control the commercial use of a person’s identity.
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South Bend; IN – Trademark and copyright lawyers for Coach, Inc. and Coach Services, Inc. of New York, New York filed two trademark infringement lawsuits in the Northern District of Indiana.

In the first lawsuit, intellectual property attorneys have alleged that Diva’s House of Style and Elizabeth “Beth” Bond of Elkhart, Indiana infringed fifty-one marks that have been registered with the US Trademark Office. The complaint also alleges that Diva’s House and Ms. Bond infringed the copyrighted works LEGACY STRIPE and SIGNATURE C, which have been registered by the US Copyright Office. The complaint alleges that Diva House and Ms. Bond have been designing, manufacturing, and/or selling “studied imitations” of Coach products that bear the Coach trade marks, trade dress and copyrighted works. Coach alleges that Diva House and Ms. Bond advertised the knock-off products on Facebook. A CoachCoach.jpg representative used e-mail and phone to correspond with the defendants and purchased a purse from her. The representative then determined that the purse was not a genuine Coach purse and was a knock-off of inferior quality. The complaint makes claims of trademark counterfeiting, trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, false designation of origin and false advertising, trademark dilution, copyright infringement, common law trademark infringement, unfair competition, forgery and counterfeiting. This case has been assigned to Judge Jon E. DeGuilio and Magistrate Judge Christopher A. Nuechterlein in the Northern District of Indiana, and assigned Case No. 3:11-cv-00253-JD-CAN.

In the second lawsuit, intellectual property attorneys allege that Lyn-Maree’s LLC of Auburn, Indiana, and its owners, Emma Taylor and Lynn Siples, infringed fifty-one marks that have been registered with the US Trademark Office. The complaint also alleges that Lyn-Maree’s and its owners infringed the copyrighted works LEGACY STRIPE and SIGNATURE C, which have been registered by the US Copyright Office. The complaint states that a Coach representative purchased a hand bag, wallet and sunglasses labeled “Coach” at the Lyn Maree’s retail store. The items were examined by Coach and determined to be not genuine Coach items, but knock-off items of inferior quality. The complaint makes claims of trademark counterfeiting, trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, false designation of origin and false advertising, trademark dilution, copyright infringement, common law trademark infringement, unfair competition, forgery and counterfeiting.

Practice Tip: Coach has a reputation for vigorously defending their intellectual property.  Coach filed two trademark lawsuits in the Northern District of Indiana in April of this year, which were reported on in Indiana Intellectual Property Law News.  It seems that a Coach representative is monitoring businesses in the Northern District of Indiana and purchasing knock-off goods that then become the basis of these lawsuits.

 


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Indianapolis, IN – Patent lawyers for FirePASS IP Holdings and FirePASS Corporation of New York, New York filed a patent infringement lawsuit alleging Bombardier, Inc. of Montreal, Canada, and Bombardier Aerospace Corporation, of Richardson, Texas, infringed Patent Numbers RE 40,065, HYPOXIC FIRE PREVENTION AND FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS FOR COMPUTER CABINETS AND FIRE-HAZARDOUSINDUSTRIAL CONTAINERS 6,418,752, HYPOXIC FIRE PREVENTION AND FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS AND BREATHABLE FIRE EXTINGUISHING COMPOSITIONS FOR HUMAN OCCUPIED ENVIRONMENTS, Patent No. 6,314,754,FPicture.jpgHYPOXIC FIRE PREVENTION AND FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS FOR COMPUTER ROOMS AND OTHER HUMAN OCCUPIED FACILITIES, Patent No.7,207,392, METHOD OF PREVENTINGFIRE IN COMPUTER ROOM AND OTHER ENCLOSED FACILITIES  which have been issued by the US Patent Office.

The complaint alleges that Bombardier sells and offers to sell products that infringe FirePASS’s patents. Specifically, FirePASS alleges that Bombardier has a contract to sell 40 CS300 aircraft to Republic Airways of Indianapolis, valued at $3.2 billion. FirePASS alleges that the aircraft contain flammability reduction means that infringe FirePASS’s patented technology. The Federal Aviation Administration has implemented new regulation requiring additional flammability reduction means to prevent fuel tank fires in aircraft. FirePASS seeks a declaratory judgment of infringement, damages and an injunction.

Practice Tip:   According to a press release by FirePASS, the FAA adopted FirePASS’s technology and has required its use to protect fuel tanks on commercial aircraft.  In this case, FirePASS claims the patent infringement occurred either “literally or under the doctrine of equivalents.”  Apparently, FirePASS is taking the position that any new aircraft made that comply with the FAA’s new regulation would infringe FirePASS’s patents.   The Doctrine of Equivalents “allows a court to hold a party liable for patent infringement even though the infringing device or process does not fall within the literal scope of a patent claim, but nevertheless is equivalent to the claimed invention.” The legal test, articulated in Warner-Jenkinson Co. v. Hilton Davis Chem. Co. (1997), is whether the difference between the limitation in the accused device and the limitation literally recited in the patent claim is “insubstantial.”


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Indianapolis, IN – Trademark lawyers for Noble Roman’s, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana filed a trademark infringement suit alleging Findlay Tiffin Oil, LLC of Tipp City, Ohio and Ayman Magdaddi of Aurora, Indiana infringed Trademark Registration No. 987,069 for the mark NOBLE ROMAN’S; Trademark Registration No. 1,920,428 for the mark THE BETTER PIZZA PEOPLE; and Trademark Registration No. 1,682,308 for the mark NOBLE ROMAN’S PIZZA, which are registered with the US Trademark Office.

The complaint alleges that Findlay owns a convenience store located in Aurora, Indiana and Mr. Magdaddi operates the convenience store. The convenience store was owned by a company called Duncan Oil until February 2011, and Duncan Oil operated a Noble Roman’s franchise on-site that used various trademarked items and trade dress. The complaint alleges that Duncan Oil was an authorized franchise of Noble Roman’s until the property was sold in February 2011. Findlay and Magdaddi, however, have not reached an agreement to be authorized to operate a Noble Roman’s franchise. The complaint alleges that a Noble Roman’s employee visited the store in March 2011 and observed pizza being sold using the Noble Roman’s trade dress and menu boards. The complaint states that on April 30, 2011, Duncan Oil recovered all the Noble Roman’s trademarked items and trade dress. Noble Roman’s trademark attorneys have made claims of trademark infringement and federal unfair competition.

This case has been assigned to Judge Tanya Walton Pratt and Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker in the Southern District of Indiana, and assigned Case No. 1:11-cv-00665-TWP-TAB.

Practice Tip: If a new owner of the franchise property wishes to continue operating the franchise, a new franchise agreement must be reached. If the new owner continues to use the franchise’s trademarked items and trade dress without authorization, a trademark infringement lawsuit may result. Noble Roman’s has been particularly aggressive in enforcing trademarks rights in franchise relationships.
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Indianapolis, IN – Trademark lawyers for Trufoods, LLC of New York filed a trademark infringement suit alleging Premier Food Services of Fishers, Indiana and its owners infringed its trademarks involving a Ritter’s Frozen Custard Shoppe franchise that Premier operated. The trademarks at issue are registration numbers 1,976,078; 2,706,642; 2,801,455; and 3,322,584 for the marks “Ritter’s Frozen Custard,” “Ritter’s Frozen Custard Taste the Difference!,” “Cubby Paws,” and “Ritter’s Frozen Custard Legendary Ice Cream” registered with the US Trademark Office.

The Ritter’s Frozen Custard franchise and its associated trademarks are owned by Trufoods. According to the complaint filed by Trufoods trademark attorneys, Premier entered a franchise agreement with Trufoods to operate a Ritter’s in Carmel, Indiana. The complaint alleges that the Ritter’s was opened initially in 2009, but that Premier did not re-open the shop this spring. Trufoods terminated the franchise agreement. Trufoods demanded that Premier return all trademarked items and trade dress and now claims that Premier has failed to do so. The complaint alleges that Premier now operates a competing business called “Coney Island Custard and Hot Dogs” in Avon, Indiana, which also alleged to be a breach of the franchise agreement. Trufoods alleges that Premier is using its trademarked items and trade dress in connection with the Coney Island Custard and Hot Dogs business. The complaint makes claims of trademark infringement, common law trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, unfair competition, and breach of contract.

This case has been assigned to Judge Jane E. Magnus-Stinsonand Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker in the Southern District of Indiana and assigned case no. 1:11-cv-0446-JMS-TAB.

Practice Tip: When a franchise agreement terminates, typically the franchisee must promptly cease using and return all signs and other equipment containing trademarks. Failure to do so may result in a lawsuit for breach of contract as well as trademark infringement.
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South Bend, IN – An intellectual property attorney for Garden Homes, of St. Joseph County, Indiana, filed a copyright and trade dress infringement lawsuit against Charles and Maura Weis, of Florida, and Ryan Rans, of Indiana. Charles Weis is the former head coach of the Notre Dame‘s football team. The copyrighted work is custom plans for homes and has been registered by the US Copyright Office.
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