Articles Posted in Trademark Dilution

Huber-2-300x224New Albany, IndianaHuber Orchards, Inc. of Borden, Indiana filed a trademark lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana.  Defendants in the litigation are C. Mondavi & Family (“CMF”) and C. Mondavi & Sons, Inc., both of St. Helena, California.  Huber filed the lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that its mark “Huber Winery Generations Indiana Red Wine” does not infringe Defendants’ trademark.

Both Plaintiff and Defendants produce and offer wine products.  In February 2017, CMF sent a cease and desist letter to the president of Huber stating that CMF owns a federally registered trademark for GENERATIONS for wine.  This trademark has been registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as U.S. Reg. No. 2,236,517.

In the letter, sent to Huber by a trademark lawyer for Defendants, CMF asserts that Huber’s use of the word “Generations” in conjunction with the sale of wine violates the Lanham Act by infringing and diluting CMF’s trademark.  The letter demanded that Huber cease all use of the trademark GENERATIONS in connection with its Huber Winery Generation Indiana Red blend wines.  CMF further contended that Huber is liable for injunctive relief, damages, possible treble damages and attorneys’ fees.

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Huber contends that it began selling its “Huber Winery Generations Indiana Red Wine” line locally in 1997, two years before CMF registered its trademark, and that it began selling the wine on the internet in 2004.  It further asserts that its use of its “Huber Winery Generations” common law trademark does not infringe any trademark in which CMF has right because there is no likelihood of confusion.  It asks the court to declare that Huber’s use of “Generations” and “Huber Winery Generations” do not infringe CMF’s GENERATIONS trademark.

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NCAA-300x202Indianapolis, Indiana –  National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) of Indianapolis, Indiana sued in the Southern District of Indiana alleging trademark infringement and unfair competition.

NCAA’s trademarks, which have been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office (“USPTO”), pertain to the following uses of FINAL FOUR and MARCH MADNESS:

MARK GOODS/SERVICES REG NO. & DATE
FINAL FOUR Association services, namely, conducting annual basketball tournaments at the college level 1,488,836;

May 17, 1988

FINAL FOUR Promoting the goods and services of others by allowing sponsors to affiliate their goods and services with collegiate championship tournaments 2,377,720;

Aug. 15, 2000

FINAL FOUR Printed matter, namely, guides in the field of sports; Luggage, namely, portfolios, backpacks, duffle bags, rolling luggage, garment bags, briefcases, athletic bags and tote bags; and Entertainment services, Namely, providing information in the field of college sports via the Internet 2,964,266;

June 28, 2006

MARCH MADNESS Entertainment services, namely, presentation of athletic and entertainment personalities in a panel forum 1,571,340;

Dec. 12, 1989

MARCH MADNESS Entertainment in the nature of basketball tournaments between college teams 2,485,443;

Sept. 4, 2001

MARCH MADNESS Telecommunications services; namely the transmission of voice, data, images, audio, video and information via local and long distance telephone, satellite and global computer networks; leasing telecommunications equipment, components, systems and supplies; electronic mail services; telephone voice messaging services; providing multiple-user access to global computer networks to transmit, receive and otherwise access and use information of general interest to consumers; web casting of athletic games, tournaments, exhibitions, and events via the Internet 3,025,527;

Dec. 13, 2005

Defendants in this Indiana trademark lawsuit are Kizzang LLC of Las Vegas, Nevada and Robert Alexander, the founder and owner of the business.  They are in the business of providing nationwide Internet-based promotions that award prizes for predicting the results of sporting events.  Plaintiff states that they have branded their NCAA-related services using the mark FINAL 3.

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Plaintiff further asserts that Defendants had planned to adopt APRIL MADNESS for the same services as FINAL 3, but that they delayed doing so upon learning that NCAA objected to their use of FINAL 3.  Kizzang has applied for federal trademark registrations for both marks with the USPTO.

Indiana trademark attorneys for Plaintiff contend that Defendants adopted both names because of their similarity to the marks used by NCAA and that Defendants did so with the intention of exploiting the goodwill associated with FINAL FOUR and MARCH MADNESS.  In this lawsuit, filed in federal court, the following claims are made:

  • Trademark Infringement Under 15 U.S.C. § 1114
  • Trademark Infringement Under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)
  • Trademark Dilution Under 15 U.S.C. § 1125
  • Common Law Unfair Competition

Plaintiff asks for various remedies from the court, including a judgment of willful and intentional violations of 15 U.S.C. §§ 1114, 1125 and Indiana common law; injunctive relief including restraining Defendants from further use of FINAL 3 and APRIL MADNESS as well as an order that the USPTO deny registration for the marks; damages, including treble damages; and attorneys’ fees.

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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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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 – Trademark attorneys for Eye 4 Group, LLC Corporation (“E4G”) of Fishers, Indiana filed an intellectual property lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana. Defendants are Indianapolis Signworks, Inc. (“ISW”) of Indianapolis, Indiana and Andrew Chapman of Carmel, Indiana, the owner of ISW.

Plaintiff E4G is in the business of graphic design, sign manufacturing, metal fabrication, promotional material and apparel. It owns a registration for the trademark EYE 4 GROUP, Reg. No. 4,694,655, which has been issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It has also an application for the registration of a second trademark for EYE 4, pending under Serial No. 87/018,205.

E4G states that Defendant ISW is a direct competitor in the business of making signs as well as associated tools and products. E4G, which owns and operates the website eye4group.com, contends that ISW has used the internet domain name “eyefourgroup.com” and, in doing so, has infringed E4G’s intellectual property. E4G asserts that Defendants’ actions constitute a knowing infringement of its trademark rights and that those actions were intentional, willful and in bad faith.

In this Indiana lawsuit, Plaintiff alleges direct and contributory trademark infringement, false designation of origin, and unfair competition arising under the Lanham Act; dilution under the Federal Trademark Dilution Act; violations of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and related wrongdoing under Indiana state law.

Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and monetary relief, including punitive damages, attorney fees and costs of the litigation.

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New Albany, Indiana – Trademark attorneys for Plaintiff Great Divide Brewing Company of Denver, Colorado filed an infringement lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana against Defendant Red Yeti Brewing Company, Inc. of Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Defendant is listed in the complaint as the owner of a restaurant and brewery named “Red Yeti Brewing Co.” a/k/a “Red Yeti Restaurant and Brewpub.” The complaint asserts that Red Yeti Brewing Co. wrongfully employs the term “Yeti” and a yeti design in its marketing.

Specifically, Plaintiff contends that Defendant Red Yeti’s conduct infringes two of its trademarks, U.S. Trademark Registration No. 2,957,257 for a Yeti word mark and U.S. Trademark Registration No. 4,115,050 for a Yeti design mark. Both have been registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Plaintiff asserts that Red Yeti’s actions constitute a deliberate attempt to trade upon Defendant’s goodwill and reputation and that its actions are willful and malicious. In this Indiana federal lawsuit, filed by trademark lawyers for Plaintiff, the following claims for relief are listed:

• Trademark Infringement in Violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1)
• Unfair Competition – False Designation of Origin in Violation of 15 U.S.C. 1125(a)
• Federal Dilution
• Common Law Unfair Competition
• Common Law Trademark Infringement

• Deceptive Trade Practices in Violation of C.R.S. § 6-1-113

Great Divide seeks damages, including punitive damages, along with equitable relief, costs and attorneys’ fees.

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Hammond, Indiana – A trademark attorney for Plaintiff NIBCO Inc. of Elkhart, Indiana commenced trademark infringement litigation in the Northern District of Indiana.

Defendant in the litigation is Legend Valve & Fitting, Inc. of Auburn Hills, Michigan. It is accused of infringing NIBCO’s HYDRAPURE trademark, which has been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under Trademark Registration Nos. 4,296,125 and 4,314,186 in conjunction with the sale of metal pipe fittings.

Plaintiff alleges Defendant’s use of HYPERPURE to market its goods creates an identical commercial impression to Plaintiff’s HYDRAPURE trademark. Calling Defendant’s use “a reproduction, counterfeit, copy, or colorable imitation” of its own trademark, Plaintiff states that Defendant’s use of HYPERPURE will confuse consumers as to the source of the goods.

2016-05-12-blogphoto.pngPlaintiff further contends that Defendant Legend chose the HYPERPURE mark in bad faith in an attempt to associate Defendant’s products with Plaintiff’s trademark and, in so doing, appropriate the goodwill that Plaintiff has built in the brand.

In this Indiana lawsuit, a trademark lawyer for NIBCO lists the following claims:

• Count I: Federal Trademark Infringement
• Count II: Federal Unfair Competition/False Designation of Origin
• Count III: Common Law Trademark Infringement
• Count IV: Common Law Unfair Competition

• Count V: Federal Trademark Dilution

NIBCO asks the court for equitable relief; damages, including punitive damages; costs and attorney fees.

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South Bend, Indiana – Intellectual property attorneys for Plaintiffs Coach, Inc. of New York, New York and Coach Services, Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida (collectively, “Coach”) filed an intellectual property complaint in the Northern District of Indiana.

Coach contends that Defendants Zip Thru Mart, Charles Estok Sr., and Janice Estok, all of Knox, Indiana, infringed various Coach trademarks, which have been registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In addition to trademark infringement under the Lanham Act, Coach asserts that Defendants have committed trade dress infringement, trademark dilution and counterfeiting under the Lanham Act, copyright infringement under the Copyright Act, as well as trademark infringement, unfair competition and unjust enrichment under Indiana common law.

Coach’s allegations stem from Defendants’ purported “designing, manufacturing, advertising, promoting, distributing, selling, and/or offering for sale” products that bear counterfeit Coach trademarks. Defendants are further accused of having engaged in this behavior “negligently and/or knowingly and intentionally, with reckless disregard or willful blindness to Coach’s rights, or with bad faith.”

In support of its allegations of infringement and related conduct, Coach states that it sent an investigator to the Zip Thru Mart. Its investigator saw multiple items bearing Coach trademarks, which Coach contends were counterfeit. Additional goods bearing purportedly counterfeit trademarks were seized by a Homeland Security Investigations officer during a subsequent visit to the business.

The intellectual property listed in this litigation includes numerous trademarks for “Coach,” “Coach New York,” “CC,” “Poppy” and similar trademarks. Coach also claims infringement of its copyrights, listing copyright registrations, registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, for its “Legacy Stripe” design (registration number VA000704542)  “Signature C” design (registration number VA0001228917),  “Op Art” design (registration number VA0001694574) and “Horse & Carriage” design (registration number VA0001714051).

In this Indiana lawsuit, filed by trademark and copyright attorneys for Coach, the intellectual property claims are listed as follows:

• Count I: Trademark Counterfeiting, 15 U.S.C. § 1114
• Count II: Trademark Infringement, 15 U.S.C. § 1114
• Count III: Trade Dress Infringement, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)
• Count IV: False Designation of Origin and False Advertising, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)
• Count V: Trademark Dilution, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c)
• Count VI: Copyright Infringement, 17 U.S.C. § 501
• Count VII: Common Law Trademark Infringement
• Count VIII: Common Law Unfair Competition

• Count IX: Unjust Enrichment

In addition to statutory damages of $2 million per counterfeit mark, per type of counterfeit good, Coach seeks equitable relief; additional damages, both statutory and punitive; costs and attorneys’ fees.

Practice Tip: Coach has a history of requesting statutory damages that are considerably in excess of what has eventually been awarded by the courts. For example, in Coach, Inc. v. Paula’s Store Sportwear LLC, 2014 WL 347893 (D.N.J. Jan. 31, 2014), Coach requested $800,000 in statutory damages – $100,000 for each of eight counterfeited marks – from a shop from which four counterfeit Coach wallets and two counterfeit Coach handbags had been seized. When awarding damages to Coach, the court noted that the retail value of the six counterfeit items was less than $1500 and awarded $5000 for each of the eight marks that had been counterfeited, multiplied by the two types of goods, for a total statutory damages award of $80,000.

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Fort Wayne, Indiana – Indiana intellectual property lawyers for Plaintiff Sweetwater Sound, Inc. (“Sweetwater”) of Fort Wayne, Indiana filed an intellectual property lawsuit in the Northern District of Indiana.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Hello Music, LLC of Austin, Texas infringed its trademarks, which have registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as Trademark Nos. 3,652,255 and 3,652,249. In addition, Sweetwater Sound contends that Hello Music infringed its copyright, issued by the U.S. Copyright Office as TX 8-064-067, which protects the contents of its website. Other counts of alleged wrongdoing, including claims under Indiana law, have been asserted.

Hello Music is accused of duplicating copyrighted content from Sweetwater’s website and using that protected content on its own website. Sweetwater contends that part of the content purportedly copied includes the Sweetwater trademark. Sweetwater also asserts that these acts by Hello Music constitute a willful and deliberate attempt to trade on Sweetwater’s goodwill.

In the complaint, filed in federal court Friday, the following claims are made:

• Count I: Copyright Infringement
• Count II: Trademark Infringement (False Designation of Origin)
• Count III: Trademark Dilution

• Count IV: Unfair Competition

Sweetwater asks the court to grant equitable relief, including the destruction of infringing materials. It also seeks actual and treble damages, disgorgement of all profits that resulted from infringing acts, litigation costs and attorneys’ fees.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Indiana copyright and trademark attorneys for Plaintiff The Rough Notes Company, Inc. (“Rough Notes”) of Carmel, Indiana commenced a copyright infringement lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana.

The Defendant, That’s Great News, LLC (“Great News”) of Cheshire, Connecticut, is accused of infringing U.S. Trademark Registration No. 2,585,340, which has been filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, as well as unfair competition, false designation of origin, and dilution under the Lanham Act. Allegations of copyright infringement of material protected by Copyright Registrations Registration Nos. TX 7-988-447 and TX 7-988-464, as well as other related claims, have also been made.

Plaintiff Rough Notes is a publisher of print and online magazines. It indicates that it has used its “Rough Notes” trademark since 1878 and that the trademark was registered in 2002. Rough Notes contends that Defendant Great News has violated it copyright, trademark and other intellectual property rights by producing samples of commemorative plaques that feature protected content owned by Rough Notes and distributing samples via e-mail to solicit the purchase of a plaque.

In this federal complaint, filed with the court by Indiana copyright and trademark lawyers for Rough Notes, the following causes of action are alleged:

• Copyright Infringement
• Federal Unfair Competition & False Designation of Origin
• Federal Trademark Infringement
• Common Law Trademark Infringement
• Federal Trademark Dilution
• Common Law Unfair Competition

• Unjust Enrichment

Rough Notes seeks equitable relief; statutory damages, including up to $150,000 for willful infringement; and reimbursement of costs and attorneys’ fees.


Practice Tip
: Plaintiff may have difficulty overcoming the defense of nominative fair use of a trademark in this lawsuit. That doctrine provides that, as a matter of law, nominative use of a mark — where the only word reasonably available to describe a particular thing is pressed into service — lies outside the strictures of trademark law. Defendant may argue that its use of “Rough Notes” on its commemorative plaques was permissible as those are the only words reasonably available to adequately describe a plaque displaying an article featured in a “Rough Notes” publication.
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