Dynamic Fluid Control (PTY) Ltd. v. International Valve Mfg., LLC, No. 10 C 7555, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 11, 2011) (Darrah, J.).
Judge Darrah denied defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss in this patent and Lanham Act case involving air-release valves for water and sewage pipes, and plaintiff Dynamic Fluid Control’s ("DFC") VENT-O-MAT mark.
The fact that DFC’s related entity DFC Water (Pty) Ltd. was the trademark registrant not DFC did not require dismissal. The terms "applicant" and "registrant" are read to include predecessor and future assignees of the mark.
Trade Dress Infringement
DFC was not required to specifically identify the elements of its trade dress in the complaint. DFC’s general statement that its trade dress consisted of distinctive shape, contours . . . and color scheme" was sufficient.
Because DFC’s unfair competition claim was of the likelihood of confusion type, not the false advertising type, DFC was not required to meet Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b) pleading standards. As a result, while DFC’s allegations were "rather broad and somewhat ambiguous" they met the notice pleading standards. Defendants were on notice that DFC believed that customers were likely to be confused by defendants’ use of the VENT-TECH mark and alleged use of DFC’s trade dress.
The Court also noted that the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act ("DTPA") codified unfair competition so it was unclear what limited exception DFC’s state unfair competition claim might fall into, but the Court allowed the claim to remain.
Deceptive Trade Practices Act
Once again, because DFC’s DTPA claim was based upon likelihood of confusion, heighted pleadings standards were not required. And DFC’s claim met the standard, as did its Lanham Act claims.
Illinois Trade Secrets Act
The Court held that DFC need not identify specific trade secrets that were allegedly misappropriated. DFC’s general list of trade secret categories were sufficient to put defendants on notice.
Unjust enrichment is not a stand alone claim in Illinois. But it can be brought, although it is dependent upon other claims.
Pegasus Airline Group LLC
The individual defendants argued that there was no such entity as Pegasus Airline Group LLC ("PAG"). But as PAG was allegedly a limited liability company, not a corporation, defendant’s argument that PAG was not incorporated was irrelevant. And defendant’s only evidence that PAG did not exist came in its reply – too late. Finally, DFC’s failure to prove service did not effect the validity of service.