Mindy’s Restaurant, Inc. v. Watters, No. 08 C 5448, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 9, 2009) (Der-Yeghiayan).

Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction even though plaintiff brought a federal Lanham Act trademark infringement claim.  While Lanham Act claims are generally considered federal questions creating subject matter jurisdiction, plaintiffs claims were in essence breach of contract claims.  Plaintiff was a franchisor of Mindy’s Restaurants.  Defendants were franchisees, until they allegedly stopped making required franchise payments and plaintiff terminated the franchise agreement.  While plaintiff’s claims were for use of plaintiff’s trademarks when defendants allegedly continued operating their restaurant after the franchise agreement was canceled.  As a result, the Court held that the parties dispute and plaintiff’s claims sounded in contract, not the Lanham Act.  The reason the trademarks were allegedly infringed was the termination of the franchise agreement.