Articles Posted in Trademark Infringement

Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, The Trustees of Indiana University of Bloomington, Indiana,IU-v-MidAmerica-BlogPhoto filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Mid-America Publishing, Inc., of  Spencer, Indiana and Terry R. Self of  Spencer, Indiana, infringed its rights in United States Trademark Registration Numbers 1,713,815, 4,912,172, 1,705,521, 2,868,784, 1,728,274, and 4,925,141 (collectively the “IU Marks”). The IU Marks were all instituted at different times, the earliest of which were used as early as 1975, and have been continuously used to date. Indiana University advertises and promotes the IU Marks and has spent a substantial amount of money to make the IU Marks inherently distinctive and easily recognizable. Plaintiff is seeking injunctive relief, judgment including statutory damages, and attorneys’ fees.

As of the date of filing, Mid-America Publishing, Inc. (“Mid-America”) was and had been administratively dissolved since July 15, 2010, according to the Indiana Secretary of State. Mr. Self is the sole officer and owner of Mid-America and as such directs all acts of Mid-America including producing, promoting, and selling posters, calendars, cards, and other printed materials. Previously, Mid-America began selling a poster of the Indiana University (“IU”) Men’s Basketball team with a listing of the games for their upcoming season. These posters included one or more trademarks owned by IU. Mid-America would customize these posters for local companies for them to pass out to as free promotional items.

Up until April 2012, there was an informal understanding between IU and Mid-America regarding the posters and the use of their trademarks. The parties’ informal understanding was formalized in April of 2012 when they entered into a multi-year Marketing and Sponsorship Agreement. The use of the trademarks was non-exclusive and limited, and Mid-America agreed not to use any student-athlete’s name or likeness without advance written approval from IU’s Compliance Officer. Mid-America produced and sold the posters in accordance with this Agreement up until May 2, 2016 when IU informed Mid-America that it would not continue licensing to Mid-America. The term of the Agreement was extended by one year in which Mid-America was allowed to produce the poster for the 2016-2017 season, after it received approval for the artwork from IU.

While IU photographs its student-athletes for promoting its athletic programs and events, it has a policy to prohibit any profits being made from the use of a student-athlete’s name, image, or likeness by IU or any third party. IU filed an expedited application with the United States Copyright Office to register their 2017-2018 IU Student-Athlete Photographs on October 3, 2018. The application has been registered as VA0002121460, but a Certificate of Registration had not been received by the Plaintiff as of the filing of the Complaint.

On October 9, 2017, Mr. Self on behalf of Mid-America, submitted an Application for License Agreement to IU to use the IU Marks in producing the 2017-2018 Mid-America IU Basketball Poster. The Application did not request to use any student-athlete names or likenesses, and the Trademark License Agreement provided by IU for consideration did not contain any license for the same. Mid-America executed the Trademark License Agreement on October 28, 2017. IU did not execute the agreement as it learned that Mid-America was already selling unapproved 2017-2018 IU Basketball Posters including the IU Marks, IU Student-Athlete Photographs, and the names of the student-athletes. After numerous attempts to contact Mid-America to resolve the situation, IU contacted the printers that Mid-America fraudulently induced to print the unapproved posters. The printers ceased printing the posters, agreed to destroy any they had remaining in their possession, and gave a quantity for how many they had already printed and delivered to Mid-America.

Despite all of the communication that was ignored by Mid-America for the 2017-2018 IU Basketball Poster production, Mid-America began producing and offering for sale its 2018-2019 version on August 29, 2018. Further, they are producing a Hoops Hysteria Handbook, which includes the schedule of each Division 1 college in Indiana, including IU’s. The Handbook does contain IU Student-Athlete Photographs and is offered for “free” with each Mid-America IU Basketball Poster, but advertises may pay for their advertisement to be printed on the back for $0.20 per booklet. As such, IU is claiming, trademark infringement and counterfeiting, false and deceptive labeling, unfair competition, and copyright infringement.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Heartland Consumer Products LLC and TC Heartland LLC (collectively “Heartland”), of Carmel, Indiana, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana in April of 2017 alleging that Defendants, DineEquity, Inc., Applebee’s Franchisor LLC, Applebee’s Restaurants LLC, Applebee’s Services, Inc., International House of Pancakes, LLC, IHOP Franchisor LLC, IHOP Franchising LLC, and IHOP Franchise Company, LLC all of Glendale, California; infringed its rights in some or all of United States Trademark Registration Nos.: 1544079, 3346910; 4172135, 4165028, 4301712, 4172136, 4165029,4122311, 4187229,Heartland-v-DineEquity-BlogPhoto 4202774, 4230392, 4238101, 4106164, 4664653, and 4744600 (SPLENDA IP”). In addition, at the time they filed their Complaint, HEARTLAND was the owner of the following applications for United States Trademark Registration Serial Nos. 86865337, 87012521, and 87010504, two of which are still “LIVE” trademarks. The suit settled in October 2018.

SPLENDA® is a low-calorie sweetener using sucralose that is a compound made from sugar. With the FDA approving sucralose for use in food products and food preparations in 1998, SPLENDA® was at the forefront of the market coming out in 1999 and launching in retail stores across the United States in September 2000. SPLENDA® is well-known and famous for their yellow-colored packaging which has been used continuously since the brand began using that color.

Plaintiffs claimed that the Defendants misappropriated the SPLENDA IP to deceive consumers and were actually providing consumers with a lower-quality product from China. For instance, some people working at IHOP and Applebee’s restaurants would orally affirm to customers that the yellow packets provided did in fact contain SPLENDA ® even though they did not. Plaintiffs alleged in their Complaint trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition, and trademark dilution. They were seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, corrective advertising damages, Defendant’s profits, and costs among other damages. The Parties have settled outside of court as of October 2018.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Veridus Group, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana for a declaratory judgment against Defendant, Strategic IP Information Pte Ltd. (“SIP-IP”) of Irvine, California, that Veridus Group has not infringed SIP-IP’s rights in United States TrademarkBlogphoto Registration No. 5,294,263 for the mark VERI-SITE. Plaintiff is seeking declaration and judgment, damages, attorney’s fees, costs, and any other relief the Court may deem appropriate.

This case arose after the Defendant sent the Plaintiff a cease and desist letter alleging that Veridus Group was infringing on their federal trademark. SIP-IP provides internet and brand management services, which include certification systems to “help ad networks and publishers identify website hosting content without authorization.” Veridus Group runs a site certification program designed to help professional property developers mitigate risk and to help end-users in increasing the speed to market and improving the value and marketability of a site or building. They utilize the mark VERISITE for marketing and sales purposes related to their site certification services and related goods.

Veridus Group claims that the Defendant does not have an exclusive right over the word “VERISITE” in connection with Plaintiff’s business activities as they are significantly different from those of SIP-IP. Further, Plaintiff alleges that even if Defendant did have exclusive ownership in this manner, the services and goods are marketed in such different channels of trade and with both companies working with sophisticated purchasers, there is not a likelihood of confusion for the origin of the services and/or goods. As there is an actual case and controversy as to whether Plaintiff is infringing Defendant’s mark in violation of the Lanham Act and as to whether the Plaintiff engaged in unfair competition at the federal or state common law level, Plaintiff is seeking a declaration of the rights of the parties in connection with the mark VERISITE.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Alliant Specialty Insurance Services, Inc., of San Diego, California, filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, Tribal-Care Insurance LLC of St. John, Indiana, has and continues to infringe its rights in the TribalCare trademark. Plaintiff is seeking an injunction, damages, statutory damages, costs, expenses, and attorneys’ fees in addition to other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

The Plaintiff alleges that the TribalCare mark was first used in interstate commerce on or about May 24, 2010 by HealthSmart Holdings, Inc. The mark was registered on November 29, 2011 as United States Trademark Registration No. 4,062,744. Just before the mark was officially registered, on or about October 7, 2011,Alliant-v-Tribal-BlogPhoto-300x68 HealthSmart and Alliant came to an agreement that would allow Alliant to use the TribalCare trademark.

According to Alliant, HealthSmart learned of the Defendant’s use of the mark “Tribal-Care” in late 2015 or early 2016. After HealthSmart discovered the allegedly infringing use, they sent a cease and desist letter to Tribal-Care on January 8, 2016. Defendant filed a petition to cancel HealthSmart’s registration in the United States Patent and Trademark Office before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board on August 17, 2016. As a result, HealthSmart assigned the trademark rights in the TribalCare mark to Alliant so they could be substituted into the cancellation action for litigation.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Keith F. Bell, Ph.D. of Texas filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Lloy Ball, of Angola, Indiana, and USA Volleyball of Colorado Springs, Colorado infringed his rights in Copyright Registration Number TX-0002-6726-44 titled “Winning Isn’t Normal”KeithBell-BlogPhoto-192x300 (the “Infringed Work”) and his rights in Trademark Registration Number 4630749. Plaintiff is seeking judgment awarding damages, actual damages, profits, statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, injunctive relief, pre-judgement, and post judgment interest.

The Infringed Work was first published in 1982 and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1989. Dr. Bell continues to offer for sale and market his book and derivative works such as posters and t-shirts with a specific passage known as the “WIN Passage”. He has offered and continues to offer licenses to those that may wish to publish or utilize the WIN Passage. The word mark “WINNING ISN’T NORMAL” has also been registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office with Registration No. 4630749 for printed matter.

Dr. Bell alleges that Defendant Ball posted a representation of the WIN Passage on his Twitter account on or about November 12, 2015. This post received at least 51 “retweets” and 201 “likes” from Ball’s over 2,000 followers. Dr. Bell also claims that Defendant USA Volleyball posted a representation of the WIN Passage on their Twitter account on or about November 20, 2015 that included a “retweet” of the post by Defendant Ball. This post received at least 30 “retweets” and over 7,000 “likes” from USA Volleyball’s over 123,000 followers. Cease and desist letters were sent to Ball and USA Volleyball on July 15, 2016 and April 21, 2017, respectively. Both Defendants removed their posts shortly after the letter was sent to Ball, automatically removing all retweets of the post. While the Defendants have acknowledged liability to the Plaintiff, they have not agreed to enter into a settlement agreement to protect the Plaintiff’s rights and compensate him for his injuries, leading to this suit for both copyright and trademark infringement.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Oakley, Inc. of Foothill Ranch, California, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Swami Property Sunman Inc., d/b/a Sunman BP of Sunman, Indiana, Chirag Patel, an individual, and Does 1-10 (collectively “Defendants”) infringed its rights in United States Trademarks as seen below:

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Plaintiff is seeking judgment against Defendants, preliminary and permanent injunctions, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and investigatory fees.

Oakley has been a successful manufacturer and retailer of eyewear since at least 1985. During that time, they have acquired many trademarks including, but not limited to those pictured above (collectively, the “Oakley Marks”). Plaintiff has utilized the Oakley Marks to distinguish their high quality products from those of others and their consumers have come to recognize their distinct marks.

Plaintiff filed this action after discovering counterfeit products bearing infringing Oakley Marks were being offered for sale and/or sold at a gas station with a convenience store operating under the name of “SUNMAN BP.” It is Oakley’s belief that the Defendants are selling and offering for sale these counterfeit products with the intent that they will be mistaken for genuine high quality Oakley eyewear even though the Defendants are not licensees of Oakley nor have they been given the authority to use the Oakley Marks.

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Lightning-v-Harmon-BlogPhoto-300x181Hammond, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Lightning One, Inc. of Sherman Oaks, California, filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, Nicholas P. Harmon of Lake Station, Indiana, infringed its rights in United States Trademark Registration Nos. 4375013 and 4349360 for NATIONAL WRESTLING ALLIANCE, and Trademark Registration No. 5418415 for the Logo associated with NATIONAL WRESTLING ALLIANCE. All of these registered marks will be referred to collectively as the “NWA Marks.” Plaintiff is seeking a permanent injunction, an accounting and judgment, treble damages, punitive damages, and costs including attorneys’ fees.

Lightning One has been involved in the professional wrestling world for seventy years with its NWA Marks being used in interstate commerce as early as 1948. They allege that not only do they have the rights in the federally registered trademarks, they also have strong common law rights based off their prior use. Plaintiff discovered that Harmon was posting videos and other social media content claiming to be “The Real NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion” and “The People’s NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion” in April 2018. Harmon also utilized a logo to promote his services that was allegedly intended to be confusingly similar with that of the registered NWA logo.

After discovering the infringing content, Lightning One sent Harmon a cease and desist letter. Instead of complying with the letter, Harmon posted his interactions with Lightning One on social media and continued using the NWA Marks. A further demand letter sent by Lightning One was also not complied with. In fact, Defendant made a Facebook post saying that he was intending on selling t-shirts using the mark N.W.A shortly after the letter. While he claims it was for his favorite rap group of the same initials, the background of this case seems to show differently.

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Fort Wayne, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, North American Van Lines, Inc. (“NAVL”) of Fort Wayne, Indiana filed suit in the NorthernNorthAmerican-BlogPhoto District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, North America Moving & Storage, Inc. of Miami Beach, Florida infringed its rights in United States Trademark Registration No. 917,431 for the mark “NORTHAMERICAN”. Plaintiff is seeking damages, exemplary damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest.

Counts one and two of the Plaintiff’s Complaint allege Federal Trademark Infringement and Federal Unfair Competition, both under the Lanham Act. Plaintiffs allege that the Defendant’s use of “NORTH AMERICA” and “NORTH AMERICA MOVING SYSTEMS” (“Infringing Marks”) has caused and will continue to cause confusion, deception, and mistake by giving the impression that the Defendant’s services originate from the Plaintiff or are associated with the Plaintiff. Further, Plaintiffs claim there has been actual consumer confusion as to the source of transportation services sold and advertised by the Defendant. NAVL also asserts that Defendant has taken part in multiple deceptive acts including making false representations, false descriptions, and false designations of origin of its services, providing for unfair competition.

Count three claims that Defendant registered and is using the northamericamoving.com domain name in bad faith under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. NAVL alleges that Defendant is using the name without their permission and that Defendant’s intent in registering and using the domain name was and is to divert consumers from NAVL’s own websites. Count four of the Complaint alleges Indiana Trademark Infringement for Defendant’s use of a reproduction, colorable imitation, or copy of NAVL’s marks in connection with the sale, or offer of, distribution, and advertising of goods and services. Finally, Count five alleges Common Law Unfair Competition for consumer confusion and deception by Defendant’s use of the Infringing Marks.

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Phocatox-BlogPhoto-300x81Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Phocatox Technologies, LLC of Carmel, Indiana filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Jerry D. Wiersig of Foley, Alabama, Todd M. Hoffman of Edmond, Oklahoma, BioClean Remediation, LLC of Foley, Alabama, and BioClean Remediation, LLC of Edmond Oklahoma infringed the rights in United States Trademark Registration No. 3,351,509 for “BioSweep”.  Plaintiff is seeking injunctive relief and judgment, including statutory damages and attorney’s fees.

Plaintiff operates under the business name “BioSweep” and manufactures and licenses odor removal and decontamination equipment. The name “BioSweep” is trademarked by the Plaintiff under registration No. 3,351,509.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Barrington Music Products, Inc. of Niles, Michigan filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Music & Arts Centers of Bel Air, Maryland, Guitar Center Stores, Inc. of Westlake Village, and Eastman Music Company of Pomona, California infringed the rights in Trademark Registration Numbers 3,831,402 and 3,831,403.  Plaintiff sought actual damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs, prejudgment interest, and any other relief.

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Plaintiff is an Indiana corporation that sells musical instruments across the country and world. Defendants are various musical instrument shops that sell similar types of items to those that Plaintiff sells. Continue reading

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