Personified, LLC v. Sales Consultants of Cary, LLC, No. 08 C 3123, 2008 WL 3200842 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 8, 2008) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.)
Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted declaratory judgment (“DJ”) defendant Sales Consultants of Cary’s (“SCC”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss DJ plaintiff Personified’s trademark case in favor of SCC’s later-filed District of North Carolina action. Shortly after its parent registered the trademark “Personified,” Personified began using the name and allegedly received a cease and desist letter from SCC who offered staffing services using the name “Personified.” SCC’s letter allegedly demanded that Personified immediately change its name and pay SCC damages. In response, Personified filed this suit seeking a declaratory judgment that it had not violated trademark laws or engaged in unfair competition. SCC countersued in the District of North Carolina several days later.
The Court had federal question jurisdiction because of the Lanham Act issues. Personified was the first to file, but the Court noted that the Seventh Circuit did not strictly follow the first-to-file rule. And the Court exercised its “wide discretion,” declining to exercise jurisdiction over the declaratory action. SCC was the natural plaintiff. Instead of filing suit after receiving the cease and desist letter, Personified could have gone to SCC to resolve the dispute. Additionally, Personified was already preparing a motion to transfer the North Carolina action to the Northern District. The Court also denied a motion to stay its ruling pending a decision by the District of North Carolina. If the North Carolina Court transferred the case to the Northern District, Personified would not face substantial hardship by having to replead its DJ claim.