Sunstar, Inc. v. Alberto-Culver Co., No. 01 CV 736 & 5825, 2007 WL 2410069 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 22, 2007) (Guzman, J.).
Judge Guzman denied defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 59 motion for a new trial and Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(b) motion for judgment as a matter of law and granted plaintiff’s motion for a permanent injunction, among other things assigning all trademarks at issue to plaintiff and enjoining defendants from using plaintiff’s trademarks. The Court held that the jury’s verdict of a breach of contract without a damages award was not inconsistent and, therefore, did not warrant a new trial. The jury was free to find that the contract was breached and to award nominal damages. But because plaintiff did not argue for nominal damages an award of no damages was warranted. Defendants also argued that the jury’s verdict was not supported by the evidence because plaintiff’s survey was not sufficient proof actual confusion. But the Court held that plaintiff’s breach-by-infringement claim only required proof of likely confusion. The jury could have considered the survey sufficient to prove likely confusion. Furthermore, plaintiff introduced fact evidence in addition to the survey which supported the jury’s findings, including the similarity of the marks at issue and the sale of similar products using the marks in the same areas as plaintiff’s trademarked products.
Finally, the Court enjoined defendants from, among other things using plaintiff’s trademarks and required that defendants assign any interest in the marks at issue to plaintiffs. Defendants argued that the Court could not require assignment of the marks to plaintiff because plaintiff never sought transfer of the marks in its complaint. But the Court held that plaintiff was seeking equitable relief that was appropriate in light of the jury’s verdict.