Hickory Farms, Inc. v. Snackmasters, Inc., No. 05 C 4541, 2007 WL 1576124 (N.D. Ill. May 29, 2007) (Kennelly, J.).
Judge Kennelly denied plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration of the Court’s decision that plaintiff’s "Beef Stick" and "Turkey Stick" marks were generic and the Court’s cancellation of the Beef Stick mark (you can read more about that opinion in the Blog’s archives). The Court denied plaintiff’s argument that it should be given more time, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(f) to conduct a survey to show that the marks are not generic. But the Court reasoned that plaintiff was free to conduct such a survey in the fourteen months of discovery leading up to defendant’s summary judgment motion. Furthermore, in its responsive briefing plaintiff specifically stated that plaintiff would “not seek to delay the briefing of this matter with its own survey at this time.” Instead, plaintiff suggested that it would conduct a survey if the Court denied defendant’s summary judgment motion. The Court held that after these statements, plaintiff’s current request to perform a survey was almost “frivolous.”
The Court also held that plaintiff’s evidence of its advertising investment and market share had not effect on the Court’s ruling that the marks were generic. A company’s marketing and advertising expenditures cannot make a mark less generic. Additionally, the fact that there is another generic term (summer sausage) for beef sticks and turkey sticks does not mean that beef stick and turkey stick cannot also be generic.
Practice Tip: If you think you need evidence to survive summary judgment make your Rule 56(f) motion before or with your response brief. Do not wait for a motion for reconsideration.