Articles Posted in Unfair Competition

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, 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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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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2018-05-04-BlogPhotoIndianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Muscle Flex, Inc. of Los Angeles, California filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Simon Property Group, L.P, and Simon Property Group, Inc., both Delaware corporations; Matt Murat Dagli, an individual who resides in Texas and owner of New Purple LLC, a Texas limited liability company, infringed its rights in United States Trademark Registration No. 4,188,135 for “WORLD OF LEGGINGS.” Plaintiff is seeking damages, judgment of infringement, an injunction on the Defendant’s use of the trademark, and recall and destruction of all infringing items.

Plaintiff is a California-based corporation that operates retail stores that specialize in women’s leggings and clothes. These items are marketed under the name “World of Leggings.” According to the complaint, the Plaintiff has invested considerable time and money into developing the World of Leggings brand.

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2018-04-30-BlogPhoto-1-300x56Fort Wayne, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, ASW, LLC of Columbia City, Indiana filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, Frederick Bisson, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada infringed its rights in United States Trademark Registration Numbers 3,556,429 for “American SportWorks”, and 5,138,550 for “American LandMaster”. Plaintiff is seeking damages, attorneys’ fees, costs and disbursements, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, and all other relief just and proper.

Plaintiff is an Indiana-based manufacturer of recreational off-road vehicles, ATVs, UTVs, and go-karts. According to the complaint, Defendant is a Canadian citizen and the owner of the website www.americansportworksparts.com.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Luxottica Group S.p.A of Mason, Ohio and Oakley, Inc., of2018-03-21-BlogPhoto-300x186 Foothill Ranch, California filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Avni Petroleum, Inc. d/b/a Delaware BP of Osgood, Indiana, Pari, Inc. d/b/a Batesville Food Mart of Batesville, Indiana, Rani Petroleum, Inc. d/b/a Batesville Shell, and Sai Petroleum Inc. d/b/a New Point Food Mart of New Point, Indiana infringed its rights in United States Trademark Registration Nos. 650,499, 1,093,658, 1,726,955, 1,080,886, 1,490,305, 2,718,485, 1,320,460, and 3,522,603 all with the Owner of Luxottica Group S.p.A.  Oakley, Inc., is the owner of Trademark Registration Nos. 1,521,599, 1,984,501, 1,990,262, 3,331,124, and 3,365,728.  Plaintiff is seeking injunctive relief, judgment including statutory damages and attorneys’ fees.

Luxottica is an Italian-based corporation that manufacturers and sells luxury eyewear under the “Ray-Ban” trademark. Oakley is a subsidiary of Luxottica that also produces high-end eyewear under the “Oakley” name.

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Pic1-300x273Marilyn D. Mintz of Northern California, had filed a Trademark infringement lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California alleging that Subaru of America, Inc., a New Jersey Corporation with place of Business in the State of New Jersey, infringed a phrase and design trademarked by Plaintiff.

Defendant Subaru, which has a large manufacturing presence in Lafayette, Indiana, ran an ad campaign with the slogan “Share the Love.” Plaintiff alleged that this infringed her trademarked phrase, “A World of Love, for You and Those You Love.” In the ad campaign, Plaintiff also used a graphic design showing a hand with a heart on it. Plaintiff alleged that this infringed a similar design she trademarked.

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BlogPhotoIndianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Klipsch Group, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, Audiosurplus, infringed its rights in United States Trademark Nos. 978,949, 2,917,215, and 3,863,511.  Plaintiff is seeking judgment, Audiosurplus’s profits and damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

Plaintiff is an Indiana-based audio equipment company that manufactures high-end speakers, headphones, subwoofers, and a variety of other items audio items. Defendant is an online retailer that sells audio equipment on Amazon. The three trademarks involved in this case are for the “KLIPSCH” brand name. Plaintiff sells its products across the country through contractually authorized retailers. Plaintiff is suing because Defendant is not an authorized Klipsch retailer, but has allegedly been selling Klipsch products through its online store without permission.

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