IP Law Alert

IP Law Alert

Practical Perspectives on Intellectual Property Legal Developments

Tag Archives: Trademark Infringement

Illinois Court Refuses to Release Frozen Funds or Enlarge Bond Amount in Trademark Counterfeiting Case

Posted in Trademark, Trademark Counterfeiting
A federal district court in the Northern District of Illinois has refused a request by certain defendants accused of trademark counterfeiting to release funds frozen in PayPal accounts and to increase the amount of a bond posted by the plaintiff in the case. The case highlights an uptick in challenges to financial asset restraints by defendants and nonparties in trademark counterfeiting cases and the discretion courts have in setting an appropriate bond to protect defendants in such cases.… Continue Reading

Court Orders Nonparty Bank to Produce Documents Said to be Located Abroad in Trademark Counterfeiting Case

Posted in Trademark, Trademark Counterfeiting
After more than five years of litigating access to documents requested in a subpoena directed to a nonparty foreign bank, the district court in Gucci Am. Inc. v. Weixing Li has ordered the bank to produce the documents, despite objections from the bank that production would violate Chinese law. The decision written by Judge Sullivan of the Southern District of New York, is an important decision for brand owners seeking to obtain financial documentation related to the sale of allegedly counterfeit goods.… Continue Reading

New York Real Property Owners at Risk for Exposure to Joint and Several Liability in Connection with Trademark Counterfeiting Taking Place on Their Property

Posted in Trademark, Trademark Counterfeiting
Brand owners are increasingly asserting claims against owners of real property where alleged trademark counterfeiting is taking place. Three recent actions filed in the Southern District of New York, styled Michael Kors, LLC v. Mulberry Street Properties Corp., et. al., 15-cv-5504 (S.D.N.Y.); Michael Kors, LLC v. Canal Venture, Inc. et. al., 15-cv-5788 (S.D.N.Y.); and Michael Kors, LLC v. Mid Center Equities Associates, et. al., 15-cv-5856 (S.D.N.Y.), raise the question of when property owners/lessors can be held jointly and severally liable for damages resulting from the sale of counterfeit goods on their properties.… Continue Reading

District Courts Adopting Middle Ground in Fashioning Statutory Damages Awards in Trademark Counterfeiting Cases

Posted in Trademark, Trademark Counterfeiting
Two recent opinions, one from the Northern District of Illinois and another from the Southern District of New York, offer guidance to those electing statutory damages in lieu of actual damages and profits in trademark counterfeiting cases. The takeaway for litigators is that courts appear to be taking a middle ground in statutory damages awards, awarding $1 million per mark/good combination instead of the $2 million statutory maximum.… Continue Reading

Claims by Brand Owners Against Alibaba Defendants are Reasserted in S.D.N.Y.

Posted in E-Commerce, Trademark, Trademark Counterfeiting
A group of brand owners has filed another complaint against eleven Alibaba and Taobao entities for claims including direct and contributory trademark counterfeiting and violations of the RICO statute. At issue is when and to what extent a service provider can be held liable for alleged trademark counterfeiting taking place on an online platform.… Continue Reading

Case Highlight: California District Court Refuses to Stay Civil Case Pending Resolution of Potential Criminal Prosecution

Posted in Trademark, Trademark Counterfeiting
In Sanrio, Inc. v. Ronnie Home Textile Inc., the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California recently refused to stay a civil case pending completion of a parallel criminal counterfeiting investigation. In Sanrio, the plaintiffs sued a corporation and two alleged principals for trademark infringement and other claims. The case was filed after law enforcement seized allegedly counterfeit goods offered for sale by the defendants and related evidence. The defendants argued that the civil case should be stayed because the seizure left them without means to substantively defend themselves. They further argued that allowing the civil case to go forward would implicate the individual defendants’ Fifth Amendment rights, though criminal charges had not been brought against them.… Continue Reading

TTAB Rulings May Have Preclusive Effects in District Court Cases

Posted in Trademark, USPTO
In a 7-2 split decision issued on March 24, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) rulings may have preclusive effects in subsequent federal district court litigation. The Court ruled that so long as the elements of issue preclusion are met, it is irrelevant that the TTAB is not an Article III court.… Continue Reading

Recent Damages Award for Wrongful Seizure Under the Lanham Act

Posted in Trademark, Trademark Counterfeiting
Judge Preska of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York recently awarded attorneys' fees, damages, and prejudgment interest on damages, but not fees to defendants, in a trademark counterfeiting case. In Prince of Peace Enterprises, Inc. v. Top Quality Food Market, LLC, Judge Preska adopted in part a report and recommendation of Magistrate Judge Maas, ending an eight-year litigation surrounding ex parte seizures of herbal supplements which took place in 2007.… Continue Reading

In Trademark Infringement Matters, Think Twice Before Waiting. Laches May Run from the Date of the Product Announcement, Before the Initial Sales

Posted in Trademark
Fitbit and Fitbug are makers of activity trackers, which are wearable tracking devices that connect to the internet and provide users with feedback about their fitness, quality of sleep, and other personal metrics. Fitbug’s U.S. trademark rights to FITBUG date back to 2004, when the British device maker filed an intent to use application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which registered in 2009. Fitbug began selling its products in United States commerce since at least as early as 2005. Fitbit, on the other hand, filed a trademark application for FITBIT in August 2008 and announced its product launch the following month. However, Fitbit did not begin shipping its products using the trademark FITBIT until September 2009. … Continue Reading

Hana Financial, Inc. v. Hana Bank: Tacking Priority of Earlier Trademarks

Posted in Trademark, USPTO
The U.S. Supreme Court does not get to tackle trademark law issues very often. The decision in Hana Financial, Inc. v. Hana Bank, (No. 13-1211; January 21, 2015) is the first pronouncement of the highest Court on trademark matters in more than a decade, and it deals with the issue known as tacking. Trademarks often experience changes in appearance and overall look in the course of many years. These changes can take various forms, such as a modification in lettering style, a rearrangement in the order of words, the dropping of a background design, or the addition of new stylized elements. The tacking doctrine allows a party to claim the earlier priority date of an old mark for a new trademark, if the later involves slight changes over the prior version. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Hana Financial addresses narrowly the question as to whether tacking is a matter of law reserved to a judge, or a matter of fact decided by a jury.… Continue Reading

Second Circuit Issues Decision in Gucci America, Inc. et. al. v. Li et. al.

Posted in Privacy, Trademark Counterfeiting
On September 17, 2014, the Second Circuit issued its long awaited decision in Gucci America, Inc. et. al. v. Li et. al., 2014 WL 4629049 (Appeal Nos. 11-3934 & 12-4557). In its decision, the Court vacated and remanded an August 2011 order compelling nonparty Bank of China (BOC) to comply with a document subpoena and asset freeze provision in an injunction and a May 2012 order denying the bank’s motion to reconsider. The court also reversed a November 2012 decision holding the bank in contempt for non-compliance with the court’s August 2011 order and imposing civil penalties.… Continue Reading

Blurred Lines: Third Circuit’s Lanham Act Attorneys’ Fees Analysis Follows Recent Supreme Court Ruling in Patent Case

Posted in Patent, Trademark
The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently decided that the U.S. Supreme Court’s April decision on attorneys’ fees in a patent case, Octane Fitness, LLC v. Icon Health & Fitness, Inc., should also be applied in trademark cases under the Lanham Act. See Fair Wind Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, Nos. 13-3305 & 14-1572 (3d Cir. Sept. 4, 2014). Defendant Dempster had successfully moved to dismiss the action under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and was awarded its attorneys’ fees under § 35(a) of the Lanham Act and the Virgin Islands Code. Plaintiff Fair Wind Sailing appealed the fee award. The Third Circuit ultimately vacated the District Court’s fee award and remanded, instructing the court below to utilize an inquiry consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Octane Fitness.… Continue Reading

Omaha! Feds Tackle Counterfeiters of NFL® Merchandise in Lead Up to the Big Game

Posted in Customs, Trademark
On Thursday, multiple federal law enforcement agencies announced that they have seized infringing knock off NFL® merchandise and Super Bowl® tickets valued at more than $20 million. Agents from both the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security, in cooperation with NFL® officials, conducted perhaps the largest Super Bowl® counterfeiting sting ever in what has become an annual tradition.… Continue Reading

NFL Scores Big Win Against Websites Offering Counterfeit Merchandise

Posted in Trademark
On June 28th, U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield of the Southern District of New York entered a default judgment in favor of the National Football League® ("NFL®") against operators of more than 1,997 websites utilizing 1,223 infringing domain names, all of which were offering counterfeit NFL merchandise. In doing so, the District Court awarded the NFL a $273 million judgment against the website operators and injunctive relief.… Continue Reading

The Trademark Rush Continues: HARBOWL and KAEPERNICK ….

Posted in Trademark
The upcoming Super Bowl, pitting San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh against his older brother, Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh, has been dubbed "Harbowl" by some. An individual in Rockville, Maryland is attempting to take this name to a new level, by filing a federal trademark application for use of the mark "HarBowl" on athletic apparel.… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Finds Covenant Not to Sue Sufficiently Broad

Posted in Trademark
Trademark holders no longer have to worry about not being able to dismiss a case by entering into a properly drafted covenant not to sue. In Already, LLC, dba Yums v. Nike, Inc., the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the Second Circuit's opinion by ruling that Nike's covenant not to sue Yums for trademark infringement was sufficiently broad to render moot Yums' challenge to the validity of Nike's asserted registration. Yums had no reasonable apprehension of litigation and Nike met its burden of showing that Yums could not be sued later. Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion, which required a high standard for parties issuing the covenant, as they bear a "formidable burden" to establish that it is "absolutely clear" that the allegedly wrongful conduct cannot reasonably be expected to reoccur. Remand was not necessary under the circumstances, because the Court found that it "cannot conceive" of any shoe that Yums could make "that would potentially infringe Nike's trademark and yet not fall under the Covenant." Arguably, the Court construed the covenant so broadly as to exclude a claim of infringement based on Yums' sale of the exact shoe covered by Nike's challenged registration.… Continue Reading

2013: The IP Law Year Ahead

Posted in Patent
Like 2012, 2013 promises to be a busy and significant year for intellectual property law. The Supreme Court is slated to decide a number of IP cases, including: Already, LLC d/b/a Yums v. Nike, Inc. (addressing the significance of a limited covenant-not-to-sue on declaratory judgment jurisdiction); Bowman v. Monsanto (determining whether the Federal Circuit erred by not finding patent exhaustion in second generation seeds and created an exception to patent exhaustion for self-replicating technologies); Gunn v. Minton (pertaining to whether federal courts have exclusive "arising under" jurisdiction when legal malpractice claims stem from a patent case); Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (regarding international copyright exhaustion, i.e., how Section 602(a)(1) and Section 109(a) of the Copyright Act apply to a copy that was legally acquired abroad and then imported into the United States); Federal Trade Comm'n v. Watson Pharm., Inc. (involving whether Hatch-Waxman reverse payment settlement agreements are legal); and most recently, Ass'n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, et al. (regarding the patentability of human genes and whether the petitioners have standing to challenge those patents).… Continue Reading

Tim Tebow Time in the Trademark Office . . . .

Posted in Trademark
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO") recently published for opposition the mark TIM TEBOW. The applicant for the mark in these various goods and services is XV Enterprises LLC of Denver, Colorado, who has indicated that Tim Tebow, the two-time Heisman Trophy winner and New York Jets quarterback (formerly with the Denver Broncos), has consented to the applications.… Continue Reading

Trademark Parody? Ben & Jerry’s Doesn’t Think It’s So Funny ….

Posted in Trademark
Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc. ("Ben & Jerry's"), the Vermont-based ice cream maker, recently filed a lawsuit in SDNY against adult video company Rodax Distributors, Inc. d/b/a Caballero Video, et al ("Defendants"). The complaint alleged trademark and trade dress dilution and infringement, and related claims arising from Defendants' production and distribution of a series of hardcore pornographic DVDs whose titles and packaging play upon the names and trade dress of some of Ben & Jerry's federally registered and famous marks.… Continue Reading

ICANN Releases Listing of gTLD Applications

Posted in Trademark
Today, ICANN, the Internet's domain name registration watch dog, will publish a listing of nearly 1,900 new generic Top-Level Domains ("gTLDs") that may be approved for use as early as March 2013. We previously wrote about ICANN's expansion program and suggested safeguards that companies could implement to protect themselves.… Continue Reading

Newly-Adopted U.S. Customs Rule Provides Brand Owners with Critical Information to Combat the Import of Counterfeit Goods

Posted in Trademark
For brand owners facing the challenges posed by counterfeiting, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol ("CBP") recently adopted a new temporary rule which has the potential to make it much easier to combat the import of counterfeit goods into the United States ("Interim Rule"). The Interim Rule provides that in instances where the CBP has suspicions regarding the authenticity of goods being imported, and the importer fails to provide proof of genuineness, the CBP is permitted to share detailed information about the suspect goods and importer with brand owners. This represents a welcome sea change in CBP policy for brand owners who have long been frustrated by CBP's policy regarding limited information sharing.… Continue Reading

gTLDs Pose New Threats in Cyberspace

Posted in Dilution, E-Commerce, Trademark
On January 12, 2012, ICANN, the Internet's domain name registration watch dog, began accepting applications for new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) to add to those already in existence, including .com, .net, .biz and others. Under the new scheme, any company can apply for a gTLD, thereby expanding the domain name system (DNS). Ultimately, this expansion will change the Internet forever. Each new gTLD poses an incremental risk for trademark owners who are already under heavy assault in cyberspace from cybersquatting (registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark owner), brandjacking (assuming the online identity of another entity for the purposes of trading on another's brand equity), and typosquatting (registering URLs with common misspellings) by those seeking to generate illicit profits. According to the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA), cybersquatting already costs trademark owners more than $1 billion each year due to lost sales, lost goodwill, and increased enforcement costs. However, with a major increase in gTLDs, many corporations fear an expansion in expensive litigation to enforce their brands and trademarks.… Continue Reading

Protecting Your Company – Trademark Basics You Need to Know

Posted in Trademark
The Gibbons Women's Initiative is hosting an upcoming program for in-house counsel entitled, "Protecting Your Company - Trademark Basics You Need to Know," on Thursday, March 8 from 8:30 - 10:15 am at Gibbons Newark Office. This program will feature Catherine M. Clayton, a Director in the Gibbons Intellectual Property Department, who leads the firm's trademark practice. Ms. Clayton has a broad range of experience in trademark and copyright law, and her practice encompasses litigation, licensing and prosecution.… Continue Reading

The “Linsanity” Continues …..

Posted in Trademark
The New York Knicks' rising superstar point guard, Jeremy Lin, continues to wow fans around the world. Lin's NBA ascent also has prompted a rush to the Trademark Office. Over 20 applications for word marks that bear the letters L-I-N already have been filed. These include LIN-SATIONAL; ALL LIN; LINSPIRATION; I'M A LINNER; LINSOMNIA: LINCREDIBLE; and other derivations using the star's last name. The frenzy began with applications for the seemingly ubiquitous LINSANITY catch phrase, which were filed on February 7 and February 9, as the star's career took off. Most of the applications to date have been filed on an intent to use basis, that is, the applicant has expressed a bona fide intent to use the mark in interstate commerce.… Continue Reading