Gabbanelli Accordions & Imports, L.L.C. v. Italo-Am. Accordion Mfg. Co. et al., No. 02 C 4048, 2008 WL 351860 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 8, 2008) (Zagel, J.)*

Judge Zagel granted plaintiff summary judgment of trademark and trade dress infringement regarding plaintiff’s “wildly colorful” and “heavily ornamental” accordions. The Court awarded plaintiff approximately $500,000 in damages, attorneys fees and costs. Defendants – Italian entities that sold accordions in the United States – chose not to participate in the case. Instead, they filed an Italian case after this case was filed, but before defendants were served pursuant to the Hague Convention. The Court previously stayed a portion of the case pending the outcome of the Italian case, but noted that the stay may have been a mistake. Years after filing, the Italian case had not been resolved and defendants failed to participate in the U.S. proceeding based upon a belief that the Italian proceeding controlled. For example, defendants admitted personal jurisdiction when they failed to respond to jurisdictional Requests for Admission and instead of filing a motion to dismiss, defendants sent the Court an unsupported letter listing their complaints with the case and the Court’s jurisdiction over them. By failing to participate in discovery and not following the Court’s rules, defendants preempted whatever ability they might have had to make their case.

Practice tip: Participate and play by the rules. Even if you cannot or will not afford counsel, you must answer discovery, respond to motions and appear when required to. Failing to participate will not insulate you from judgment.

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