Loggerhead Tools, LLC v. Sears Holdings Corp., No. 12-CV-9033, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 20, 2016) (Darrah, J.).
Judge Darrah granted defendant Sears’ summary judgment motion regarding the Lanham Act and related state law claims against it in this IP case involving the Bionic Wrench.
As to false advertising, the Court first examined defendants’ allegedly false statements, as follows:
- The claim that defendants’ accused tool was a “unique design” was not indisputably false. Even if the defendants’ tool was patterned after Loggerhead’s Bionic Wrench, there were differences between the accused tool and the Bionic Wrench. And even if it had been indisputably false, other courts have held that calling something “unique” was mere puffery, which was not actionable. Furthermore, Loggerhead did not show any actual consumer deception.
- Claims that the accused tool was defendants’ “latest innovation” were not literally false. Even if the tool was patterned after Loggerhead’s Bionic Wrench, the statement is at least ambiguous because it is unclear what innovation is being referenced. And again, courts have held “innovative” was also puffery.
- Claims in a press release that defendants’ accused tool operated in a different way than the Bionic Wrench and that the tool uses a mechanism developed in the 1950s were also not demonstrably false.
Because the accused statements were not demonstrably false and because Loggerhead could not show actual consumer deception, the Court granted Sears summary judgment as to Loggerhead’s Lanham Act false advertising claims. Because there was no Lanham Act false advertising claim, there were no claims as to Loggerhead’s related state law claims.