Aller-Caire, Inc. v. Am. Textile Co., No. 07 C 4086, 2008 WL 4066976 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 28, 2008) (Andersen, J.)
Judge Andersen granted in part and denied in part defendant American Textile Co.’s (“ATC”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff Aller-Caire’s trademark infringement case. Aller-Caire allegedly began using its ALLER-CAIRE mark in 1990, but never registered it. ATC registered its ALLER CARE mark in 2006. Both use the marks to market, at least, allergy sensitive pillow and mattress encasements. The Court dismissed Aller-Caire’s trademark count with leave to refile because it did not expressly allege a likelihood of confusion. It was not sufficient that the complaint alleged facts sufficient to infer confusion, plaintiff must plead confusion. The Court did not dismiss Aller-Caire’s tortious interference claim. Aller-Caire’s allegations would have been insufficient pursuant to Illinois law because Aller-Caire did not plead that ATC interfered with Aller-Caire’s business expectancy with a specific third party. But federal pleading requirements governed, and did not require identification of an entity.
Finally, a competitor’s privilege did not defeat Aller-Caire’s tortious interference claim. Competition cannot be tortious interference unless the competition employs wrongful means. Aller-Caire’s allegation that ATC’s alleged trademark infringement was done with malice constituted wrongful means.
Vulcan Gold, LLC v. Google, Inc., No. 07 C 3371, 2008 WL 2959951 (N.D. Ill. Jul. 31, 2008) (Manning, J.)
Judge Manning granted in part defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, dismissing plaintiffs’ RICO claims. The Court previously dismissed plaintiffs’ complaint with leave to refile – click here to read the Blog’s post on that opinion. The Court held that plaintiffs did not sufficiently plead an enterprise. Plaintiffs only alleged that the defendants were contractually related within Google’s adsense program. And the alleged contractual relationship did not show consensual decisionmaking or joined purpose. Plaintiffs’ RICO claims were, therefore, dismissed.
The Court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss the unjust enrichment and civil conspiracy claims. Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b) heightened pleading standards did not govern the claims because they were both based upon trademark infringement, not fraud.
Genender Int’l, Inc. v. Skagen Designs, Ltd., No. 07 C 5993, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Apr. 14, 2008) (Grady, J.).
Judge Grady denied defendant Skagen’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3) motion to dismiss plaintiff Genender’s declaratory judgment ("DJ") case. The Court also granted in part Skagen’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, dismissing Genender’s tortious interference claim. Skagen argued that Genender’s DJ suit should be dismissed in favor of Skagen’s later-filed suit for design patent and trade dress infringement filed in the District of Nevada. Skagen argued that dismissal was required by the Seventh Circuit’s standard as set forth in Tempco Elec. Heater Corp. v. Omega Eng., Inc., 819 F.2d 746 (7th Cir. 1987). The Court, however, held that Federal Circuit law controlled because of the design patent claims. And the Federal Circuit explicitly rejected Tempco in Genentech, Inc. v. Eli Lilly & Co., 998 F.2d 931 (Fed. Cir. 1993) (abrogated on other grounds). Instead, the Federal Circuit required that Skagen provide a "sound reason" that proceeding with the DJ would be unjust or inefficient. Skagen provided no such reason and, in fact, Skagen’s counsel agreed at argument that it did not matter whether the case was tried in the Northern District or in the District of Nevada.
The Court dismissed without prejudice Genender’s tortious interference claim. Genender alleged that Skagen interfered with Genender’s business relationship with customer Sears by copying Sears personnel on cease and desist letters. But the claim was deficient because Genender did not allege that it lost any Sears business because of Skagen’s actions.