Indiana Copyright and Trademark Litigation: Magazine Publisher Sues Commemorative Plaque Maker Alleging Infringement


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.

The case was assigned to Judge Sarah Evans Barker and Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore, in the Southern District of Indiana and assigned Case No. 1:16-cv-00319-SEB-MJD.


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