Great Eastern Entertainment Co. v. Naeemi, No. 14 C 4731, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Nov. 5, 2015) (Leinenweber, Sen. J.).

Judge Leinenweber denied defendant’s Rule 11 motion in this trademark and copyright dispute regarding alleged sale of unauthorized plush toys and backpacks at anime conventions.

As an initial matter, the Court held that Rule 11 sanctions need not be based only upon a signed pleading, but could also be based upon continuing to prosecute a case after determining that the evidence did not support the claims. However, in this instance, plaintiffs did have some, albeit “weak,” evidence suggesting that defendant was involved in the company which was allegedly selling plush toys and backpacks violating plaintiffs’ intellectual property.  Defendants’ name was on the relevant website registration, Facebook page and anime convention booth rental.  Additionally, there was no evidence that plaintiffs sought to keep defendant in the suit for any improper purpose.

The Court also declined to use its discretion to award defendant her fees pursuant to the Copyright Act for the same reasons the Court did not award fees pursuant to Rule 11.