Articles Posted in Unfair Competition

South Bend, Indiana – The United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana entered a Temporary Restraining Order against Darkhorse Cargo, Inc. (“Darkhorse”) and its employees (collectively “Defendants”) regarding trade secrets and confidential information of Plaintiff, RC Trailers, Inc. (“RC”).

RC manufacturLogo-1-300x85es and distributes cargo and specialty trailers throughout the United States. According to RC, it expends a lot of time, effort, and expense to maintain dealer and vendor relationship using trade secrets and confidential business information. RC claims it uses confidentiality provisions in its employee handbooks, passwords, disclaimers on confidential communications, and o

RC’s former president, Defendant Bryan Johnson (“Johnson”), ended his employment with RC in September 2018 and signed an agreement that contained non-solicitation and non-recruitment covenants that expired one year later. After Johnson’s departure, he claims many RC employees were unhappy to see him leave and wanted to work for him elsewhere. In the spring of 2019, RC promoted Defendant Joseph Kiefer (“Kiefer”) from CFO to acting General Manager. Kiefer claims that RC employees were talking about wanting Johnson to open his own trailer company prior to Kiefer terminating his employment with RC in June 2019. Prior to his leaving RC, Kiefer allegedly tried to recruit RC’s sales professional to join Darkhorse, indicating the business would be started by Kiefer and Johnson in the near future. RC claims that unbeknownst to it, Kiefer deleted the post-employment restrictions in his non-compete agreement before signing and returning it to RC upon his departure.

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Terre Haute, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiffs, H-D U.S.A., LLC and Harley-Davidson Motor Company Group, LLC (collectively “Harley”), both of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Harley Life, LLC (“Harley Life”) and Bill Lemon (“Lemon” and collectively “Defendants”), both of Vincennes, Indiana, infringed their rights in U.S. Copyright Reg. No. VA 1-987-746 and the United States Trademark Registrations below (collectively “Harley’s Intellectual Property”).

Mark Reg. No. Goods and Services
HARLEY 1406876 Clothing; namely—tee shirts for men, women and children; knit tops for women and girls; and children’s shirts
HARLEY 1683455 Shirts, tank tops, boots and sweatshirts
HARLEY 1708362 Embroidered patches for clothing
HARLEY 1352679 Motorcycles
HARLEY 3818855 Non-luminous, non-mechanical tin signs, non-luminous, non-mechanical metal signs
Trademark image 4465604 Clothing, namely, shirts, hats, caps, belts, jackets, gloves, sweatshirts, lounge pants, wrist bands
Trademark image 3525970 Jackets, coats, gloves, shirts, shorts, caps, hats, headwear, knit hats, belts, neckties, pants, sweatshirts, T-shirts, leather clothing, namely, leather jackets, leather gloves, footwear, namely, boots and vest extenders

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Evansville, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Baskin-Robbins Franchising LLC and BR IP Holder LLC (collectively “Baskin-Robbins”), both of Canton, Ice-cream-300x201Massachusetts, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana against Defendants, Radhakrishna LLC (“Radha”) of Indianapolis, Indiana, Naik’s, LLC (“Naik’s”) of Louisville, Kentucky, and Mukesh Naik, a citizen of Indiana (collectively “Defendants”), alleging breach of contract, trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, and unfair competition. Baskin-Robbins is seeking injunctive relief, judgment, including statutory damages, and attorneys’ fees.

According to the Complaint, Baskin-Robbins, along with its franchisees, currently operate more than 7,800 shops worldwide and have been in business for over seventy years. BR IP Holder LLC claims to own numerous registrations for marks relating to “Baskin-Robbins” and derivations thereof, most of which are incontestable under 15 U.S.C. § 1065. Baskin-Robbins further claims that the public knows and recognizes their marks due to the extensive sales and marketing Baskin-Robbins has done while in business.

It is alleged that Mukesh Naik, individually, entered a franchise agreement for PC 361694 on or about September 14, 1998; Radha entered into a franchise agreement for PC 351607 on or about August 10, 2013; and Naik’s entered into two franchise agreements for PC 353400 and PC 360506 in 2014 (collectively the “Franchise Agreements”). Each of the alleged Franchise Agreements were entered into between the Defendants and Baskin-Robbins Franchising LLC to operate Baskin-Robbins shops and each were allegedly personally guaranteed by Mukesh Naik. Baskin-Robbins claims that the Defendants defaulted under the Franchise Agreements and after three separate failures to cure their defaulting actions, were each sent a Notice of Termination. According to the Complaint, Defendants have continued using the Baskin-Robbins marks after the Notice of Termination was received by each Defendant, in breach of the Franchise Agreements.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Circle City Marketing & Distributing, Inc. d/b/a/ Candy Dynamics (“Candy Dynamics”) of Carmel, Indiana, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, Jelly Belly Candy Company (“Jelly Belly”) of Fairfield, California, infringed its rights in United StatesCircleCity-BlogPhoto Trademark Registration No. 4,780,103 (the “‘103 Registration”) for “candy”. Candy Dynamics is seeking damages, costs, attorneys’ fees, expenses, and any other relief the Court deems proper.

Candy Dynamics claims it has sold candy for over twenty years and has offered various product lines including its TOXIC WASTE® line of sour candy. According to the Complaint, Candy Dynamics began using a two-tone pattern of alternating angled stripes (the “Hazard Stripe Mark”) for its advertising and packaging at least as early as 2001. Candy Dynamics claims that the Hazard Stripe Mark is inherently distinctive and it was therefore awarded trademark protection under the ‘103 Registration.

According to the Complaint, Jelly Belly has, with constructive knowledge of the Hazard Stripe Mark, advertised, promoted, and sold candy products, including its Bean Boozled product line using a “hazard stripe design” (the “Infringing Mark”). Candy Dynamics claims that on or about March 28, 2017, its counsel sent a letter to Jelly Belly informing it of the ‘103 Registration and alleged infringement. While Jelly Belly allegedly agreed to “phase out use of the solid stripe design,” Candy Dynamics claims Jelly Belly instead slightly modified its product by adding several “CAUTION” statements in front of the Infringing Mark and modified the width of the stripes. As such, Candy Dynamics is seeking damages for federal and common law trademark infringement and unfair competition pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1114 et seq., the common law, and 15 U.S.C. § 1125, respectively.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, CityMoms, Inc. (“CityMoms”) incorporated in the State of Delaware, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana seeking a declaratory judgment that its use of “CityMoms” does not infringe the rights of Defendant, theCityMoms Greater Indianapolis LLC (“theCityMoms”) of Indianapolis, TheCityMoms-TM-BlogPhoto-300x75Indiana, or theCityMoms’ Trademark Registration No. 4,588,132 (the “‘132 Registration”) for “theCityMoms”. In the alternative, if there is a likelihood of confusion found between the two parties’ marks, CityMoms is claiming its use of the term predates that of theCityMoms. As such, CityMoms is seeking declaratory judgment of non-infringement, and in the alternative, injunctive relief, judgment including statutory damages, and attorneys’ fees.

According to the complaint, CityMoms conducts business online and offers, among other things, a mobile app and software system “that helps local businesses book unused spots in their kids’ activities programs and family events.” TheCityMoms is alleged to provide “a sisterhood for the modern mom” that offers a support network for moms, events and activities, and an official membership. CityMoms claims that theCityMoms has threatened to take action against it for trademark infringement and unfair competition and has interfered with CityMoms’ ability to sell its app to a third party.

CityMoms’ services are alleged to have begun in 2012 with theCityMoms filing its application for the ‘132 Registration on January 2, 2014. This application was given Serial No. 86156171 (the “‘171 Application”) and was filed for the goods and services of International Class 041, which includes “Educational and entertainment services, namely, providing motivational and educational speakers; Organizing, arranging, and conducting playdates, mom-only evenings, open play times, shopping parties, fitness classes, volunteering and cultural events”. The ‘171 Application was submitted with a statement by Melissa Kondritz and Jeanine Bobenmoyer that “theCityMoms” was used in commerce and related with the company at least as early as March 1, 2013. However, CityMoms claims that the domain name http://thecitymoms.org/ was not registered until March 8, 2013 and therefore could not have existed prior to that date. CityMoms further claims it has found no evidence theCityMoms provided motivational and educational speakers on or before January 2, 2014 as part of its business and therefore, the ‘171 Application was filed with “willfully false material statements that constituted fraud” and should make the ‘132 Registration invalid and unenforceable.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, F.F.T., LLC (“F.F.T.”) having a principal place of business inFFT-BlogPhoto-300x65 Seattle, Washington, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Thomas Sexton, Ph.D. (“Sexton”), Functional Family Therapy Associates, Inc. (“Functional Family Therapy”), Astrid Van Dam (“Van Dam”), and FFT Partners, LLC (“FFT Partners” and collectively “Defendants”), infringed its rights in United States Trademark Registration Nos. 4,389,569 for the mark FFT-CW®, 4,435,321 for the mark FFP®, and 5,267,897 for the mark FUNCTIONAL FAMILY THERAPY CHILD WELFARE®. F.F.T. is seeking injunctive relief, judgment including statutory damages, and attorneys’ fees.

F.F.T. claims it “is an organization dedicated to training psychotherapists in the ‘Functional Family Therapy’ protocol that its founder, Dr. James F. Alexander (“Dr. Alexander”), developed through decades of research and practical application.” According to the complaint, F.F.T. conducts business in thirty-three states and ten foreign countries. Sexton and Van Dam are individuals, alleged to be residing in Bloomington, Indiana. Functional Family and FFT Partners are a corporation and limited liability company, respectively, each alleged to have a principal place of business in Bloomington, Indiana.

According to the Amended Complaint, Dr. Alexander began studying and developing his family based method of therapy for delinquent adolescents in the 1960s and began referring to his therapy model as “Functional Family Therapy” in 1982 with the publication of his first book. F.F.T. claims this protocol has become very successful and is now referred to simply as “FFT.” Dr. Alexander along with non-party, Richard Harrison (“Harrison”), and Sexton allegedly formed FFT, Inc. in 1998 to train therapists in the Functional Family Therapy protocol. Per the complaint, Harrison left the company four years later and Douglass Kopp (“Kopp”) entered the company as CEO and Managing Member. F.F.T. claims it was formed to pursue the same efforts as FFT, Inc., which was subsequently administratively dissolved.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Dean Potter LLC (“Potter LLC”), an Indiana limited liability company, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, LG Electronics USA, Inc. (“LG”), a Delaware corporation, and DOES 1 – 10, infringed its intellectual property rights, including the right of publicity. Potter LLC is seeking injunctive relief, judgment including statutory damages, and attorneys’ fees.

According to the Complaint, Potter LLC “is the exclusive owner of the name, likeness, image, right of publicity and endorsement, trademarks,Potter-BlogPhoto-300x240 and other intellectual property rights of the late Dean Potter.” Potter LLC claims Mr. Potter was a well-known extreme sports athlete who was featured in National Geographic for his stunts including highlining, BASE jumping, and rock climbing. Mr. Potter was allegedly featured traversing a highline in the short film entitled Moonwalk, that was shot in 2011 and published by 2012. It is alleged that no one else has recreated Mr. Potter’s performance in Moonwalk and that Potter LLC is the owner of Mr. Potter’s right of publicity and common law trademark rights in the film.

Potter LLC alleges Defendants utilized footage from Moonwalk in which Mr. Potter was traversing the highline in its commercial entitled “Listen. Think. Answer.” (the “Commercial”). According to the Complaint, LG is a multi-billion dollar corporation that has previously protected and enforced its intellectual property rights, meaning it is aware of the need to obtain a license for using Mr. Potter’s right of publicity and or likeness or commercial purposes. However, Potter LLC claims it was not approached by Defendants regarding a license for the Commercial and it never authorized Defendants to use Mr. Potter’s likeness. Potter LLC further claims Mr. Potter, during his life, “rejected the corporate, commercial, and competitive worlds that sought to profit from his art without understanding it”.

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Hammond, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Three Floyds Brewing LLC (“Three Floyds”) of Munster, Indiana filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Floyd’s Spiked Beverages LLC and Lawrence Trachtenbroit, both of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, infringed its rights in United States Trademark Registration Nos. 3,853,136, 4,759,863, 4,341,332 and 5,781,941 (collectively the “Three Floyds’ Marks”). Plaintiff is seeking actual damages, punitive damages, pre and post judgment interest, and attorneys’ fees..

ThreeFloyds-NewPhoto

Three Floyds claims to be one of the top craft brewers in the United States, selling under the trade name and mark “THREE FLOYDS” since 1996. Two of the Three Floyds’ Marks at issue in this case are claimed to be incontestable by Three Floyds pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1065. Three Floyds further claims that its marks have become publicly identifiable and that its customers frequently shorten the Three Floyds’ Marks to “‘FLOYDS’ and refer to ‘FLOYDS’ as the source of Three Floyds’ products and services.”

According to the Complaint, Defendants produce and sell alcoholic lemonade and tea beverages under the name “Floyd’s”. Defendants allegedly filed U.S. Trademark Application Serial No. 87922801 (the “First Application”) with the USPTO for a stylized FLOYD’s logo (the “Floyd’s logo”) for “Alcoholic beverages, except beer” on May 15, 2018. Defendants claimed to have used the Floyd’s logo in commerce since at least May 1, 2018. On or about November 5, 2018, it is alleged that Defendants filed U.S. Trademark Application Serial No. 88181124 (the “Second Application”) with the USPTO to register the mark “FLOYD’S”  for “Beer-based coolers” and claimed to have used the mark in commerce since at least January 1, 2018.

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South Bend, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiffs, Stoett Industries, Inc. (“Stoett”) of Hicksville, Ohio and Newline International, LLC (“Newline”) of Culpeper, Virginia, filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana Stoett-BlogPhoto-217x300alleging that Defendant, Irvine Shade & Door, Inc. (“Irvine”) of Elkhart, Indiana, infringed their rights in United States Patent No. 6,470,511 (the “‘511 Patent”) for “SHOWER SCREENS”. Plaintiffs are seeking preliminary and permanent injunction, treble damages, attorneys’ fees, expenses, costs, and other relief the court deems proper.

According to the Complaint, Newline was founded in New Zealand in 1983 and expanded its sales and facilities for shower screens into the United States in 2002. While Newline is the owner of the ‘511 Patent, Stoett claims to be the exclusive distributer for products covered by the ‘511 Patent in the United States via a licensing agreement dated December 2, 2012. Stoett allegedly sells a single shower screen for about $215.00 and has sold over 90,000 shower screens throughout the United states.

Plaintiffs believe Irvine has entered into contracts or has relationships with third-parties to make or sell infringing shower screens which either have or will result in lost sales for Newline and Stoett. As such, Plaintiffs are seeking damages for the alleged infringement of the ‘511 Patent pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 271. Second, Plaintiffs are alleging Irvine has participated in state deceptive trade practices in violation of Ohio’s deceptive trade practice laws, Ohio Rev. Code § 4165.01, et seq. Finally, Plaintiffs are seeking damages for the alleged unfair competition by Irvine and unjust enrichment.

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fanimation-blogphoto-300x65Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Fanimation, Inc. of Zionsville, Indiana, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, Décor Selections, LLC d/b/a Lighting Merchant (“Lighting Merchant”) of Ocean, New Jersey, infringed its rights in United States Trademark Registration No. 2,318,516 for FANIMATION (the “Registered Mark”). Fanimation is seeking injunctive relief, judgment including statutory damages, and attorneys’ fees.

Fanimation claims it owns the Registered Mark for “electric wall mounted fans, electric free-standing floor pedestal fans and electric ceiling fans for non-industrial use.” Further, Fanimation alleges it has been using the Registered Mark, FANIMATION, since at least 1984 and because it has filed all proper paperwork and the Registered Mark has been registered more than five years, the Registered Mark is now “incontestable” pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §1065. According to the complaint, Fanimation sells its fans in a variety of ways through direct sales via its website or showrooms, or through Authorized Dealers. Authorized Dealers have entered into a written Authorized Dealer Agreement (“ADA”) to sell Fanimation fans through specially trained staff. Fanimation claims “original buyers” of its fans from direct sales or those through an Authorized Dealer receive a warranty that is redeemable with proof of purchase, purchase order, or invoice number.

Per the complaint, Fanimation claims Lighting Merchant is and has been selling fans bearing the Registered Mark on its website without authorized use via an ADA. Fanimation claims that Lighting Merchant’s lack of warranty and failure to specially train staff on Fanimation’s products make “the fans sold by Lighting Merchant materially different from the genuine FANIMATION® fans offered by Fanimation and its Authorized Dealers.” Fanimation believes consumers are likely to be confused when purchasing fans from Lighting Merchant as to the source and quality of the fans.

Fanimation allegedly sent a cease and desist letter to Lighting Merchant on or about January 19, 2019. Fanimation believes Lighting Merchant purchases fans from Authorized Dealer(s) and then sells them second-hand. These acts, if true, would breach at least one of the terms of the ADA signed by the Authorized Dealer(s) selling to Lighting Merchant. As such, Fanimation is seeking injunctive relief and seeking damages for trademark infringement, false designation of origin, dilution, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment.

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