Morningware, Inc. v. Hearthware Home Prods., Inc., No. 09 C 4348, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 4, 2012) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve granted in part plaintiff Morningware’s motion for summary judgment as to defendant Hearthware’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Lanham Act and related state law counterclaims.
As an initial matter, the parties’ Local Rule 56.1 statements of fact were deficient in numerous ways:
- Many of both parties’ statements were not properly supported with admissible evidence or contained legal argument instead of factual statements. Any such “facts” were not deemed true.
- The parties appeared to copy and past portions of their briefs into their Local Rule 56.1 statements. That practice was not helpful to the Court.
These deficiencies resulted in a “very brief” recitation of uncontested facts.
Lanham Act False Representation & False Advertising
There were questions of fact as to each of Morningware’s alleged false representations of fact, in particular whether certain statements were false or misleading. As such, summary judgment was not proper.
Deceptive Trade Practices Act
Hearthware’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act claim was based upon the same conduct as in its Lanham Act claim. As such, summary judgment was denied for the same reason.
Common Law Misappropriation
Hearthware’s common law misappropriation claim was based upon allegations that Morningware’s infomercial was designed to mimic Hearthware’s infomercial. This claim was preempted by the Copyright Act. The infomercial was copyrightable and the misappropriation claim amounted to a claim of copying, which is actionable pursuant to the Copyright Act. The Court, therefore, granted Morningware summary judgment on this claim.
Persis Int’l, Inc. v. Burgett, Inc., No. 09 C 7451, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 26, 2011) (Guzman, J.).
Judge Guzman granted in part plaintiffs’ (collectively “Persis”) motion to dismiss defendant Burgett’s counterclaim in this Lanham Act case involving the SOHMER mark. The Court dismissed Burgett’s cancellation proceeding because it was based upon the submission of an allegedly fraudulent document in a separate trademark proceeding.
The Court dismissed two declaratory judgment claims related to a separate mark because they were unrelated to the case and were duplicative of claims in another ongoing case. The Court also dismissed a declaratory judgment claim regarding the SOHMER mark as duplicative of the existing claims and answer.
The Court allowed Burgett’s trademark infringement claim because it alleged that it owned the mark and the relevant tire and even if it later assigned the mark, its right to pursue past damages did not necessarily flow with the assignment. The Court also allowed Burgett’s unfair competition claim. Illinois unfair competition is not preempted by the Lanham Act, although it can be proven with the same or similar facts.
Schrock v. Learning Curve Int’l, Inc., No. 04 C 6927, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 29, 2010) (Kocoras, J.)
Judge Kocoras denied defendant’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and Rule 56 motion for summary judgment in this copyright and contract dispute involving photographs of Thomas & Friends characters – trains from the island of Sodor well-known to those like me with young children.
First, plaintiff’s claims sounded in copyright regardless of whether the Court used the "face of the complaint" test or the "principal and controlling issue" test both of which have been used by the Seventh Circuit. The complaint and the issues expressed in it made clear that copyrights were at the heart of the dispute. The Complaint alleged that plaintiff authored photographs and copyrighted them, entered an agreement with defendants, and that defendant’s use of the photographs violated the agreement.
Second, the Court denied summary judgment as to the contract claim because there was a question of material fact as to whether a binding agreement was formed between the parties and the Court held that in the event the trier of fact determined a valid contract exists, the agreement was not barred by the statute of frauds because plaintiff had fully performed his obligations pursuant to the agreement.