Articles Posted in Unfair Competition

Northern District of Indiana –Apparently, EZ Tankless, Inc. (“EZ Tankless”), the Plaintiff, sells water heaters throughout the world. EZ Tankless also claims to own the trademark for EZ TANKLESS under U.S. Registration No. 5,502,206 (the “Registered Mark”), which has been used in connection with its tankless water heaters since July 2009. According to the Complaint, Noritz America Corporation (“Noritz”), the Defendant, “is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of gas-fired baths and hot water heaters.”

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EZ Tankless claims Noritz adopted a confusingly similar mark to the Registered Mark and has been using that mark in connection with Noritz’s EZ Series tankless water heaters since April 2017. Per the Complaint, Noritz applied for and was granted registration for its trademark EZ SERIES under U.S. Registration No. 5,731,024 in connection, in relevant part, with tankless water heaters. Noritz was also apparently granted a trademark registration for EZTR under U.S. Registration No. 4,800,941 with a date of first use on October 31, 2014.

According to the Complaint, EZ Tankless contacted Noritz on multiple occasions through counsel to request Noritz cease use of the EZ related marks. However, Noritz apparently continued to use the marks. Therefore, EZ Tankless is seeking damages for trademark infringement pursuant to the Lanham Act, common law trademark infringement, and common law unfair competition. Additionally, EZ Tankless is seeking to cancel both the EZ SERIES and EZTR marks as it contends they were granted registration based on false representations.

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South Bend, IndianaFloat-On Corporation (“Float-On”), the Plaintiff, claims to sell unique, high quality immersible boat trailers throughout the United States and in several other countries. According to the Complaint, Float-On has used the registered and incontestable mark FLOAT-ON® (the “Registered Mark”), covered by U.S. Reg. No. 885,333, to identify its boat trailers for over fifty years. Float-On further claims it has expended large amounts of money in advertising its products bearing the Registered Mark.

 

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Per the Complaint, Paul’s Marine, Inc. d/b/a PMI Marine Distributors and Paul E. Myers, Jr., the Defendants, copied the Registered Mark and have adopted a confusingly similar mark for boat trailers – FLOTE-ON. Float-On claims the Defendants intentional and willful selling of their products with the alleged infringing mark has caused actual consumer confusion in the marketplace. Float-On is seeking damages for federal trademark infringement, unfair competition, false designation of origin, and counterfeiting pursuant to the Lanham Act among several common law claims.

 

 

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Great Grizzly, Inc. (“Grizzly”), Plaintiff, claims to have sold and imported fireworks in Indiana for over 50 years. In addition, Grizzly claims to have several federal trademarks including the one at issue in this case assigned Registration No. 2,329,220 for “PREDATOR” (the “Registered Mark”).

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Grizzly alleges the Defendants, Winco Fireworks, Inc. and Winco Fireworks International, LLC (the “Winco Defendants”) offer and sell fireworks throughout the United States. According to the Complaint, the Winco Defendants have sold fireworks that infringe the Registered Mark and have failed to desist their infringement after being informed of the Registered Mark. Therefore, Grizzly is seeking damages for trademark infringement, trademark dilution, false designation of origin, and unfair competition under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1051, et seq. and state common law. Grizzly is also claiming the Winco Defendants violated Indiana Code § 24-5-0.5-3(b)(1) for deceptive consumer practices and committed tortious interference with a business relationship under the common law.

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Indianapolis, Indiana3M Company (“3M”) claims there has been an increase in wrongdoers seeking to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic by using scams including those to price-gouge and offer3M-Blogphoto-use-300x106 fake sales of 3M-brand N95 respirators. 3M claims Defendants, Zachary Puznak, Zenger LLC d/b/a ZeroAqua, and John Does 1-10 offered Indiana an opportunity to purchase 3M N95 masks at approximately $2.82 each, which is more than double 3M’s price.

There were numerous allegedly false communications from the Defendants to various representatives of the State of Indiana, including Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s Chief of Staff and the Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, regarding the sale of 3M-brand N95 respirators. When 3M became aware of the alleged price gouging and false communications, it filed this suit claiming the Defendants infringed its rights in United States Trademark Reg. No. 3,398,329 (the “‘329 Registration”) and Registration No. 2,793,534 (the “‘534 Registration”). 3M is further seeking damages for unfair competition, false endorsement, false association, false designation of origin, trademark dilution, and false advertising. Finally, 3M filed multiple claims pursuant to the Indiana Crime Victim’s Relief Act for deception, conversion, and theft.

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Hammond, Indiana – Sundance Botanicals, LLC (“Sundance”), the Plaintiff, allegedly sells and distributes elderberry syrups bearing the mark “ELDERPOWER.” The ELDERPOWER mark was registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office under U.S. Registration No. 5,821,635 for “Immune boosting nutritional supplements made from elderberries and organic ingredients” in 2019.

According to the Complaint, The Power of Elderberries, LLC (“Defendant”) markets and sells elderberry syrup with the mark “THE POWER OF ELDERBERRIES.” Sundance claims Defendant knew of the ELDERPOWER mark prior to adopting its mark and adopted the design elements and name for its elderberry syrup bottles in bad faith “to infringe and pray on Sundance’s goodwill.” The Defendant filed a U.S. trademark application for its mark in June 2019. Sundance then opposed the registration of the Defendant’s mark in February 2020. Opposition No. 91,253,891 is currently suspended pending the outcome of this civil suit.

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Indianapolis, Indiana –Boiling Crab Franchise Co., LLC (“The Boiling Crab”), the Plaintiff, filed two separate complaints for trademark infringement and unfair competition alleging similar facts. The first complaint was filed against Defendant The Mad Crab LLC d/b/a The Boiling Crab, Crawfish & Shrimp (“The Mad Crab”). The second complaint was filed against CC Food Enterprise LLC and KC Groups Inc. (collectively “The Boiling Seafood”). According to the complaints, The Boiling Crab owns four relevant U.S. trademarks for “The Boiling Crab” in various styles with Registration Nos. 3,256,219, 4,174,077, 4,491,054, and 5,374,534.

The Boiling Crab franchise, started in California in 2004, has allegedly grown to include locations throughout California and at least four other states. According to the complaints, the Louisiana-style seafood served by The Boiling Crab and the distinctive restaurant décor and menus create a one-of-a-kind dining experience. The Boiling Crab also claims unique trade dress rights in the look and feel of its restaurants.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – KS Equity Company, LLC (“KS”), the Plaintiff, operates a convenience store, Leo’s Market and Eatery (the “Leo’s Store”) in Indianapolis, Indiana. KS claims to own and use the following U.S. Trademark Reg. Nos. 5886802, 5886803, 5892871, and 5962680 (collectively, “Leo’s Trademarks”) in connection with the Leo’s Store. According to the Complaint, KS has also developed trade dress in the unique design elements of the Leo’s Store (“Leo’s Trade Dress”).

KS claims Defendants, RSM Investments LLC, Raghbir Singh, Pushpinder Singh, York Multani, and York Singh (collectively, “Defendants”), operate a convenience store or gas station called Leon’s in Indianapolis, Indiana (the “Leon’s Store”). Per the Complaint, the Leon’s Store is located approximately 22 miles away from the Leo’s Store and uses a confusingly similar name and logo compared to the Leo’s Trademarks. The brand of fuel sold in connection with each store, Marathon, allegedly exacerbates the potential customer confusion between the two stores.

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Lafayette, IndianaLafayette Venetian Blind, Inc. (“LVB”), the Plaintiff, claims it has developed substantial goodwill in connection with its distinctive U.S. Trademark Registration No. 3537759 for the word “Allure” for use in connection with window blinds and treatements. LVB claims that Defendant, Blinds to Go (U.S.), Inc. (“Blinds to Go”), uses the term “Allure” “to sell competing goods to many of the same consumers served by LVB.” According to the Complaint, LVB has demanding Blinds to Go cease and desist from using the “Allure” mark in connection with Blinds to Go’s window treatments, but it has failed to do so.

As such, LVB is seeking declaratory relief that it has superior rights to the term “Allure” and has the right to use the term “Allure” throughout the United States for “manufacturing, designing, and selling window treatments, blinds, shades, and related products and services.” Further, LVB is seeking damages for trademark infringement and unfair competition and false designation of origin under the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. § 1114 and 15 U.S.C.A. § 1125(a), respectively). Finally, LVB is claiming damages for common law trademark infringement and passing off/unfair competition.

The case was assigned to Judge Phillip P. Simon and Magistrate Judge John E. Martin in the Northern District and assigned Case 4:20-cv-00021-PPS-JEM.

South Bend, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Williamsburg Furniture, Inc. (“Williamsburg”) of Nappanee, Indiana originally filed suit in the District Court of Delaware seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement against Defendant, Lippert Components, Inc. (“Lippert”) claiming Lippert’s United States Patent No. 8,739,330 (the “‘330 Patent”) is invalid and/or unenforceable. Williamsburg is also seeking judgment for false advertising and unfair competition as it claims Lippert informed Williamsburg’s customers of the alleged patent infringement and caused Williamsburg to lose sales. Upon motion by Lippert, the case was transferred to the Northern District of Indiana.

According to the Complaint, the invention claimed in the ‘330 Patent for a tri-fold sofa was publicly disclosed, in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public through third parties not associated with the ‘330 invention more than one year prior to the filing of the provisional patent application. For instance, Patrick Hutmacher claims he purchased a tri-fold chair/bed in August 2010 from a furniture store in McHenry. One month later, a person from the McHenry furniture store allegedly brought a second tri-fold chair/bed to Mr. Hutmacher at his place of employment, Flair Interiors, Inc. (“Flair”), in an attempt to supply the products to the company.

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Fort Wayne, IndianaShield Exteriors, Inc. (“Shield Exteriors”) filed an infringement suit against five Defendants regarding its U.S. Copyright No. VA 2-174-290 (the “‘290 Registration”) and its “SHIELD EXTERIORS” word mark and logo (the “Shield Marks”) in the Northern District of Indiana. According to the Complaint, the ‘290 Registration protects eight photographs of roof installations completed by Shield Exteriors. Shield Exteriors claims it has used the Shield Marks in connection with roofing services since as early as 2015.

Defendant Roof Genius Pro (“Roof Genius”) allegedly owns and operates two different websites that display the Shield Marks and seven of the eight photographs protected by the ‘290 Registration. According to the Complaint, Roof Genius advertised for Defendant 4Ever Metal Roofing, LLC (“4Ever Metal”) via a video advertisement posted on Facebook that included photographs of metal roofs installed by Shield Exteriors. The link posted with that advertisement redirects viewers to a website hosted by Defendant Local2Online, which displays the name and logo of 4Ever Metal and solicits customer information utilizing photographs protected by the ‘290 Registration. The other two named Defendants, sued in their individual capacities, are the owner of Roof Genius and Local 2Online, John Estabrook, and the owner of 4Ever Metal, Travis Sliger.

The case was assigned to District Judge Holly A. Brady and Magistrate Judge Susan L. Collins in the Northern District and assigned Case 1:20-cv-00064-HAB-SLC.

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