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 Loggerhead’s fraud claims in this patent, Lanham Act and trade secret case involving the Bionic Wrench.

Of particular note, the Court held as follows:

  • Loggerhead could not

Foodworks USA, Inc. v. Foodworks of Arlington Heights, LLC, No. 10 C 1020, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 19, 2015) (Rowland, Mag. J.).

Magistrate Judge Rowland denied defendant’s motion to reconsider the Court’s prior denial in part of a motion for judgment on damages in this Lanham Act case regarding FUEGO marks.

However defendant

Slep-Tone Enter. Corp. v. Teddy O’Brian’s, Inc., No. 14 C 3570, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 24, 2014) (Guzman, J.).

Judge Guzman granted in part plaintiff Slep-Tone’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss defendant’s declaratory judgment of trademark invalidity, cancellation, antitrust and related Lanham Act and state law claims in this trademark

Judge Dow denied plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent further alleged infringement of plaintiff’s photographs and denied defendant John Wiley & Sons’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s fraud claim. There is not an automatic rule that ongoing copyright infringement warrants an injunction. Instead, plaintiff must meet its burden as to each factor.
Plaintiff showed a likelihood of success on the merits that: 1) he has copyrighted works; 2) John Wiley & Sons only had a limited right to use them; and 3) some were used without any license. But plaintiff could not show irreparable harm. Plaintiff was in the business of licensing photographs and any harm could be remedied with money damages. The Court did, however, note that plaintiff would be in a strong position to recover his attorneys’ fees should he succeed on the merits because of the ongoing nature of the alleged violation. But without irreparable harm, there could be no preliminary injunction.
Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff’s fraud claim was premised upon request letters for plaintiff’s photographs and later uses of those photographs. The required intent to deceive was pled only on information and belief. Plaintiff’s contentions were “barely” sufficient, but were sufficient. It was not clear whether the alleged acts were just broken promises or intentional, fraudulent acts.

Continue Reading Copyright Infringement Claims Do Not Guarantee Preliminary Injunction

Golden Golf Lighting, Inc. v. Greenwich Indus., L.P., No. 07 C 1086, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 18, 2010) (Andersen, J.).
Judge Andersen denied defendant Clarin’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), 9(b) and 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss this Lanham Act case regarding Clarin’s allegedly fraudulent procurement of a trademark related to folding seats.
First, 15 U.S.C. § 1120 limited recovery to injuries sustained “in consequence” of a trademark registered by fraud or false reasons. The damages need not be to a trademark, as Clarin argued. Plaintiff’s alleged damage because its folding chairs were seized at the U.S. border based upon alleged infringement of Clarin’s trademark and plaintiffs allegedly lost business based upon the seizure. Those facts were sufficient to plead that Clarin was the proximate cause of plaintiff’s alleged damages.
Plaintiffs pled fraud with sufficient particularity by incorporating by reference the fraud-related decision in Specialized Seating v. Greenwich Indus., L.P., 472 F.Supp. 2d 999 (N.D. Ill. 1999). Finally, Plaintiffs did not violate Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) or 8(d)(1) by combining two claims into a single count. Notice pleading did not require separate headings for each claim.

Continue Reading Fraud Sufficiently Pled by Citing to Earlier Fraud Decision

World Wide Sales, Inc. v. Church & Dwight Co., Inc., No. 08 C 1198, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Nov. 9, 2009) (Kennelly, J.).
Judge Kennelly granted defendant Church & Dwight (“CD”) summary judgment on each of plaintiff World Wide Sales’ (“WWS”) claims for trademark infringement, Lanham Act unfair competition and fraud on the Patent and Trademark office. WWS claimed that CD infringed and unfairly competed with WWS’s Forever Fresh for the Fridge trademark, used with a refrigerator odor elimination product, by using CD’s Fridge Fresh mark with its Arm & Hammer refrigerator deodorizer product.
Lanham Act
The parties stipulated that CD’s mark was protectable for purposes of this motion. The only issue, therefore, was whether there was a likelihood of confusion. Generally, a court would consider whether consumers believed CD’s mark referred to WWS’s product. But WWS relied upon a theory of reverse confusion, arguing that CD had so saturated the market with its junior mark that consumers believed WWS’s products were CD’s products. Courts apply the same likelihood of confusion factors in both reverse confusion and confusion cases, although the factors are weighted differently:
Similarity of Products. The products had similar deodorizing uses, but they were presented so differently that there was little chance of consumer confusion.
Degree of Similarity. Beyond both using “Fridge” and “Fresh” the marks were not similar. Among other things, WWS’s mark was surrounded by pictures of refrigerated food stored with or without its product, CD’s mark was against a yellow-orange background, similar to other Arm & Hammer products without any pictures of food. The factor weighed strongly in CD’s favor as it was “extraordinarily unlikely” that consumers would be confused.
Use and Manner of Concurrent Use. The parties’ distribution channels were vastly different. WWS offered no evidence of the products being sold in the same store or advertised in the same publication.
Strength of Mark. WWS’s mark was descriptive and relatively little had been invested in promoting the mark. As a result, the Court held that the mark was relatively weak.
Consumers’ Degree of Care. While the products at issue were relatively inexpensive, the Court still held that there was little chance consumers would confuse the products.
CD’s Intent. Because the junior user does not seek to profit from the senior user’s mark in reverse confusion cases, CD’s intent was irrelevant.
Actual Confusion. WWS offered no evidence of actual confusion.
Based upon the factors, the Court held that no reasonable fact finder could find a likelihood of confusion.
Fraud on the PTO
Because WWS’s registration disclaimed the exclusive use of “fridge” and “fresh,” no reasonable fact finder could have found that CD lacked a reasonable belief that “fridge” and “fresh” were unprotected words. And therefore, failing to disclose WWS’s “Forever Fresh for the Fridge” registration to the PTO during the prosecution of CD’s “Fridge Fresh” mark was not fraud.

Continue Reading No Reverse Confusion Because of Dissimilar Trademarks