Slep-Tone Ent. Corp. v. Roberto, No. 12 C 5750, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 22, 2013) (Darrah, J.).

Judge Darrah denied defendants’ (collectively “Arrowsound”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, but granted Arrowsound’s motion to sever.  The Court, therefore, dismissed Arrowsound without prejudice for improper joinder in this trademark dispute regarding SOUND CHOICE karaoke discs. 

Plaintiff Slep-Tone sufficiently pled its trademark claims by pleading that it owned the SOUND CHOICE marks and that defendants display the marks in advertising to garner the “quality and superiority” associated with SOUND CHOICE.  Slep-Tone similarly sufficiently pled Lanham Act unfair competition by alleging that defendants used counterfeit karaoke discs in ways likely to confuse customers and that Slep-Tone was harmed by these actions. 

Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2) joinder of claims requires that joint or several relief is sought against defendants arising from the same transaction and that there be a common question of law or fact.  Similarlity of claims is not enough.  In this case, Arrowhead and the other defendants were all accused of similar acts — using counterfeit karaoke discs — but otherwise the parties were unrelated.  The Court, therefore, dismissed Arrowhead with leave to refile a separate case against Arrowhead.