Easton v. Primal Wear, Inc., No. 17 C 6081, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 29, 2019) (Tharp, J.). Judge Tharp denied the plaintiffs’ (collectively “Primal Mode”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 motion for summary judgment and defendant Primal Wear’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) & (6) motion to dismiss in this Lanham Act trademark infringement … Continue Reading
Bodum USA, Inc. v. A Top New Casting, Inc., No. 16 C 2916, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Dec. 28, 2017) (Kennelly, J.). Judge Kennelly denied defendant A Top’s motions for summary judgment and to exclude the testimony and survey evidence of plaintiff Bodum’s survey experts in this Lanham Act trade dress case involving French-press coffee … Continue Reading
Saeilo Enters., Inc. v. Alphonse Capone Enters., Inc., No. 13 C 2306, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Dec. 5, 2014) (Dow, J. as emergency judge for Aspen, Sen. J.). Judge Dow, sitting as emergency judge for Judge Aspen, granted plaintiff Saeilo’s motion for a temporary restraining order prohibiting defendant from selling Tommy Guns’ alcohol in this … Continue Reading
Sorenson v. WD-40 Co., No. 12 C 50417, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 9, 2014) (Kapala, J.). Judge Kapala granted defendant WD-40 summary judgment as to plaintiff’s Lanham Act and related state law claims regarding plaintiff’s THE INHIBITOR and related design marks (the “Inhibitor Marks”) and WD-40’s Specialist product line. WD-40’s use of the word … Continue Reading
Global Total Office Ltd. Partnership v. Global Allies, LLC, No. 10 C 1896, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Feb. 14, 2012) (Coleman, J.). Judge Coleman denied plaintiffs summary judgment as to their Lanham Act infringement, deceptive trade practices and unfair competition claims. All three required a factual finding of a likelihood of confusion, which the Court … Continue Reading
Judge Aspen denied defendant Teachbook's motion to dismiss plaintiff Facebook's Lanham Act complaint. As an initial matter, the Court refused to consider the 300 pages of additional materials outside of Facebook's complaint that Teachbook sought to introduce. The Court declined to take judicial notice of public records, and would have had to convert the motion to a summary judgment motion to consider the remaining materials.
The Court denied Teachbook's claims that the -Book suffix in the FACEBOOK mark was generic as a matter of law. As an initial matter, although it was within the Court's discretion, the Court did not believe it was appropriate to isolate and review the -BOOK suffix separate from the FACEBOOK mark. Additionally, Facebook was using its mark to offer social networks, not books, ebooks or otherwise. Facebook sufficiently plead the visual and aural similarities between the two marks. Facebook's decision not to plead actual confusion was not fatal to its claim. Actual confusion is not a required element of trademark infringement.
Facebook also sufficiently pled intent. Facebook alleged that Teachbook adopted its mark to call to mind Facebook. The Court also noted that teachers might think that Teachbook was Facebook's response to some school's banning teachers Facebook use.
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AutoZone, Inc. v. Strick, No. 03 C 8152, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 8, 2010) (Darrah, J.).
Judge Darrah, after a bench trial, held that defendant's use of his Oil Zone and Wash Zone marks did not create a likelihood of confusion with plaintiff AutoZone's Auto Zone trademarks.*
Likelihood of Confusion
Only one of the seven likelihood of confusion factors weighed in AutoZone's favor - the strength of AutoZone's mark. But the strength of the mark was outweighed by the dissimilarity of both the marks and the services offered by the parties. Apart from the common use of the word "zone" there was little similarity between plaintiff's AutoZone and defendant's Oil Zone/Wash Zone. And while AutoZone sells auto parts, defendant performs automatic services.
AutoZone's four-year delay exceeded the analogous Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act three-year statute of limitations. The fact that defendant's alleged infringement "fell through the cracks" and was not acted on for four years, was not a sufficient excuse for the delay. And defendant was prejudiced by AutoZone's delay based upon defendant's four years of advertising the Oil Zone/Wash Zone names.
* Click here for more on this case in the Blog's archives.
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It is the time of year for the Best of 2008 lists. The legal blogosphere* is no different as evidenced by Blawg Review #193 -- click here to read it -- recounting the 51 weekly Reviews from this year and soliciting nominations for the annual Review of the Year award from anyone who has hosted or is scheduled to host a Review. As someone who has hosted (click here to read my 2008 Review # 173, and who plans to host another in 2009, I exercise my right to vote for the following Reviews:
Rush on Business -- Click here to read Review #147 which followed law blogs as they participated in Iowa's famous RAGBRAI cycling race/ride (I love cycling).
Patent Baristas -- Click here to read Review #161 which provided a powerful message on Memorial Day.
Likelihood of Confusion -- Click here to read Review #191 which took a legal look at the possible explanations for the miracle of Chanukah.
* Ed. how can you insist upon Blawg Review, but than refer to the legal blogosphere. Are you just trying to get to Mr. O'Keefe?
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Miyano Machinery USA, Inc. v. MiyanoHitec Mach., Inc., No. 08 C 526, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 5, 2008) (Kendall, J.)
Judge Kendall granted a preliminary injunction against defendants' (collectively "MiyanoHitec") continued use of plaintiff Miyano Machinery's ("MMU") MIYANO trademarks. MMU proved a sufficient likelihood of success on its trademark infringement claims. Despite the fact that Miyano was the surname of the individual defendants, it was protectible. While personal names are not generally protectible, MMU's Miyano marks had acquired secondary meaning, making them protectible. And individual defendants originally consented to MMU registering the marks.
MMU's "Winged M" mark was not abandoned when MMU changed the font of the Miyano name in the mark. And MMU showed a likelihood of confusion. MMU's and MiyanoHitec's marks were very similar and were used on similar products - lathes - that were to be sold in similar channels. MMU also offered evidence of a few acts of actual confusion. And the evidence showed that MiyanoHitec likely intended to benefit from the likely consumer confusion.
The Court also found that MMU would be irreparably harmed without an injunction because trademark infringement is presumed to create irreparable harm. In contrast, the injunction would cause MiyanoHitec minimal or no harm. MiyanoHitec had not sold any product yet, had previously used a different name, and was aware of MMU's trademark claim before choosing its marks.
Finally, the public interest was served by preventing trademark infringement and the resulting consumer confusion. The Court, therefore, granted MMU a preliminary injunction against MiyanoHitec.
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In re Bilski, __ F.3d __ (Fed. Cir. 2008) (en banc).*
Chief Judge Michel, writing for a nine judge majority, affirmed the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences' finding that Bilski's invention -- a commodities trading method for hedging risks -- did not meet the 35 U.S.C. § 101 patentable subject matter requirement. The Federal Circuit overturned State Street's "useful, concrete, and tangible result" test as insufficient to determine patentability. The Federal Circuit held that the Supreme Court's "machine-or-transformation" test was the only test for determining patentability:
A claimed process is surely patent-eligible under § 101 if: (1) it is tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or (2) it transforms a particular article into a different state or thing.
I found Judge Dyk's concurrence tracing the history of the "machine-or-transformation" test back to the Patent Act of 1793 especially interesting:
In fact, the unpatentability of processes not involving manufactures, machines, or compositions of matter has been firmly embedded in the statute since the time of the Patent Act of 1793, ch. 11, 1 Stat. 318 (1793).
As with any major appellate decision, we will need eighteen to twenty four months of district court and Federal Circuit decisions to flesh out and fully understand Bilski's implications. While we argue those cases and await the decisions, there will be plenty of law review and blog analysis. Here are some of the first (I will update with additional posts as they come):**
* 271 Patent Blog (glad to see Peter Zura back in the blogosphere);
* IP ADR Blog;
* Likelihood of Confusion;
* Patent Baristas;
* Patently-O (with Crouch's usual, in-depth analysis);
* The University of Chicago Law Faculty Blog (Randy Picker has an exceptionally detailed take on the opinion); and
* WSJ Law Blog (saying experts are torn as to whether Bilski will make it to the Supreme Court).
* Click here for the opinion.
** I have updated the list of Bilski blog posts with some new ones.
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Aller-Caire, Inc. v. Am. Textile Co., No. 07 C 4086, 2008 WL 4066976 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 28, 2008) (Andersen, J.)
Judge Andersen granted in part and denied in part defendant American Textile Co.'s ("ATC") Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff Aller-Caire's trademark infringement case. Aller-Caire allegedly began using its ALLER-CAIRE mark in 1990, but never registered it. ATC registered its ALLER CARE mark in 2006. Both use the marks to market, at least, allergy sensitive pillow and mattress encasements. The Court dismissed Aller-Caire's trademark count with leave to refile because it did not expressly allege a likelihood of confusion. It was not sufficient that the complaint alleged facts sufficient to infer confusion, plaintiff must plead confusion. The Court did not dismiss Aller-Caire's tortious interference claim. Aller-Caire's allegations would have been insufficient pursuant to Illinois law because Aller-Caire did not plead that ATC interfered with Aller-Caire's business expectancy with a specific third party. But federal pleading requirements governed, and did not require identification of an entity.
Finally, a competitor's privilege did not defeat Aller-Caire's tortious interference claim. Competition cannot be tortious interference unless the competition employs wrongful means. Aller-Caire's allegation that ATC's alleged trademark infringement was done with malice constituted wrongful means.
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Allen Bros., Inv. v. AB Foods LLC, No. 06 C 1269, 2008 WL 345600 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 6, 2008) (Andersen, J.).
Judge Andersen granted defendant AB Foods summary judgment of likelihood of confusion and dismissed plaintiff Allen Brothers' Lanham Act claim and related state law trademark infringement claim. Allen Brothers, a seller of gourmet meats, argued that AB Foods infringed its AB trademark by using it to sell AB Foods' gourmet meats. The Court held that this was the rare case that was so one-sided as to warrant summary judgment that there was no likelihood of confusion, even though AB Foods uses its AB mark in direct competition with Allen Brothers:
The marks were not similar because Allen Brothers always used its full name along with its AB mark;
Allen Brothers' customers are sophisticated meat purchasers, as evidenced by Allen Brothers' high prices;
The strength of Allen Brothers' mark is in its full name, not just AB;
Allen Brothers' produced no evidence of actual confusion; and
Allen Brothers produced no evidence that AB Foods intended to pass off its meats as Allen Brothers products.
The Court, therefore, granted AB Foods summary judgment and dismissed the case.
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My recent story about Ebert's use of his "Two Thumbs Up" has been receiving a lot of attention (and I even scooped the Sun-Times):
Likelihood of Confusion -- Ron Coleman agrees with E. Leonard Rubin, interviewed in the Chicago Tribune today, who says that the written "Two Thumbs Up" mark is pretty strong.
Robert Feder of the Chicago Sun-Times -- Feder says that the "Two Thumbs Up" mark is "the most powerful and influential symbol in movie marketing."
The fact that the Patent Reform Act has stalled in Congress, which I discussed earlier this week, has been picked up by several blogs:
Maryland IP Law Blog -- Citing my post.
Patently-O -- Dennis Crouch says that the Patent Reform Act is not just stalled, it is dead.
271 Patent Blog -- Leads with a great Simpsons' quote in saying the Act is on hold.
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AutoZone, Inc. v. Strick, __ F. Supp.2d __, 2006 WL 3626770 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 7, 2006) (Hart, J.). Judge Hart granted summary judgment for defendants and dismissed all of plaintiffs’ claims in this trademark case. First, the Court did a detailed analysis of each of the seven likelihood of confusion factors and determined that a … Continue Reading