Eva’s Bridal Ltd. v. Halanick Enterprises, Inc., No. 07 C 1668, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 19, 2010) (Darrrah, J.).
Judge Darrah granted in part defendants’ and denied plaintiffs’ summary judgment motions in this Lanham Act case over the use of the name "Eva’s Bridal." The Court granted defendants’ summary judgment as to plaintiffs’ trademark infringement claim because plaintiffs presented no evidence that they federally registered the "Eva’s Bridal" trademark.
Plaintiffs’ Lanham Act unfair competition and trademark dilution claims did not require a federally registered trademark. But because the mark was not registered, plaintiffs had the burden of proving ownership of the mark. Plaintiffs created at least a question of fact as to ownership with evidence that plaintiffs’ business was a continuation of the original use of the mark. And because the mark was based upon a first name and not a last name the mark was not necessarily descriptive. The Court, therefore, held there was a question of fact as to whether the mark was descriptive.
Defendants agreed that plaintiffs abandoned the mark by licensing it without maintaining any quality control. Plaintiffs, however, presented sufficient evidence of control to create a question of fact.
Defendants’ argument that plaintiffs had not shown a likelihood of confusion was not relevant to a dilution analysis. And defendants’ argument that the Eva’s Bridal mark was not famous failed because it was not developed. Defendants’ argument was a single sentence without elaboration or support.
There was also a question of fact as to defendants’ laches and acquiescence claims. Plaintiffs cited evidence that during the alleged delay the parties engaged in various negotiations and defendants made various payments.
Finally, the Court denied plaintiffs’ summary judgment motion. Plaintiffs failed to comply with Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requiring a statement of uncontested material facts supported by admissible evidence. Plaintiffs’ statements were largely taken verbatim from its amended complaint, were largely irrelevant to the summary judgment issues and were largely not supported by cites to the record. The Court, therefore, denied plaintiffs’ motion without analyzing it on the merits.
Alta Mere Indus., Inc. v. DBC Window Tinting, Inc., No. 10 C 266, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 6, 2010) (Darrah, J.).
Judge Darrah granted defendant Impact’s Fed. R. Civ. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss plaintiff Alta Mere’s Lanham Act claims regarding its marks related to automotive window tinting and alarm systems. Impact operated a local Texas business and had no other identified Illinois contacts. Alta Mere argued that the Court had specific jurisdiction over Impact because of Impact’s interactions with other defendants who were Alta Mere franchisees, as well as two letters allegedly sent to Impact warning that a franchise agreement governing defendant Cader’s use of the Alta Mere marks were governed by Illinois law.
The Court considered jurisdiction over each defendant separately and, therefore, did not consider the other defendants’ Illinois contacts in analyzing jurisdiction over Impact. Impact alleged that it never received Alta Mere’s letters. But even if Impact had received them, correspondence sent to a defendant outside the forum could not alone create jurisdiction. The letters were "random, fortuitous, or attenuated contacts."
AutoZone, Inc. v. Strick, No. 03 C 8152, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 8, 2010) (Darrah, J.).
Judge Darrah, after a bench trial, held that defendant’s use of his Oil Zone and Wash Zone marks did not create a likelihood of confusion with plaintiff AutoZone’s Auto Zone trademarks.*
Likelihood of Confusion
Only one of the seven likelihood of confusion factors weighed in AutoZone’s favor – the strength of AutoZone’s mark. But the strength of the mark was outweighed by the dissimilarity of both the marks and the services offered by the parties. Apart from the common use of the word “zone” there was little similarity between plaintiff’s AutoZone and defendant’s Oil Zone/Wash Zone. And while AutoZone sells auto parts, defendant performs automatic services.
AutoZone’s four-year delay exceeded the analogous Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act three-year statute of limitations. The fact that defendant’s alleged infringement “fell through the cracks” and was not acted on for four years, was not a sufficient excuse for the delay. And defendant was prejudiced by AutoZone’s delay based upon defendant’s four years of advertising the Oil Zone/Wash Zone names.
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