SCI Ill. Servs., Inc. v. Mitzvah Memorial Funerals, Inc., No. 10 C 6111, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Apr. 27, 2011) (Holderman, C.J.).
Judge Holderman denied defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff’s Lanham Act false designation of original claim in this trademark dispute involving funeral home trademarks – Lloyd Mandel Levayah Funerals (plaintiff) and Lloyd Mandel Mitzvah Memorial Funerals (defendant). Plaintiff properly pled that it had a protectable mark and that there was a likelihood of confusion as to defendants’ funeral services. The Court could not find the marks so dissimilar that plaintiff could not demonstrate a likelihood of confusion between the marks as a matter of law. The Court refused to consider defendants’ motion as to other claims because defendant did not argue or support its motion as to the other claims in its briefing.

Continue Reading Funeral Home False Designation of Origin Case Survives

Trading Techs., Intl., Inc. v. BGC Partners, Inc., No. 10 C 715, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 17, 2010) (Kendall, J.).
Judge Kendall denied defendant BGC Partners’ (“BGC”) motion to dismiss as moot because of plaintiff Trading Technologies’ (“TT’s”) subsequently filed amended complaint. Courts routinely deny without prejudice motions to dismiss when an amended complaint is filed, but this case was unique because TT opposed dismissal. TT argued that BGC’s improper service argument should be dismissed with prejudice and the remaining arguments should be heard to avoid delay because TT continued asserting similar claims in the amended complaint. The service arguments were, however, moot because BGC did not make the service arguments in response to the amended complaint.
The Court also denied the motion to dismiss without prejudice as to the remaining arguments. While the claims may have remained factually similar, BGC’s arguments went to jurisdiction, not the sufficiency of the facts. Furthermore, the amended complaint added several new defendants. BGC and the other defendants would have been prejudiced if they were not given the opportunity to review the amended complaint and to collectively decide how to address any jurisdiction or venue issues.

Continue Reading Motion to Dismiss Denied as Moot Over Plaintiff’s Objection

Simonian v. Merck & Co., Inc., No. 10 C 1297, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jul. 16, 2010) (Shadur, Sen. J.).
Judge Shadur sua sponte struck portions of defendants’ answer to plaintiff’s false patent marking case. First, the Court struck denials that followed defendants’ statements that they lacked information and belief. While a lack of information and belief acts as a denial, denying allegations as to which you cannot form a belief is “oxymoronic.”
Second, the Court struck defendants’ improper affirmative defenses. Several of defendants’ affirmative defenses were improper because they had already been brought into issue by denying allegations in the complaint. The Court also struck defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) affirmative defense with leave to promptly file a “properly supported” motion to dismiss.

Continue Reading Court Sua Sponte Dismissed Affirmative Defense

UTStarcom, Inc. v. Starent Networks, Corp., No. 07 C 2582, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 22, 2009) (Bobrick, Ret. J. & Special Master).
Special Master Bobrick, a retired judge, denied defendant Starent’s motion to dismiss plaintiff UTSI’s trade secret misappropriation claim for repeatedly deficient interrogatory responses related to the claim. Over the course of a year, UTSI served six responses to the interrogatories at issue based upon various requests by Starent and orders by the Special Master. After the sixth set of responses, Starent agreed that the answers were sufficient. Starent, however, requested dismissal of the claim based upon UTStarcom’s repeated failure to provide a substantive answer. UTStarcom responded that dismissal was a drastic remedy that was not warranted because had provided substantive answers and because Starent had not been prejudiced by the delay. UTStarcom even suggested other remedies like exclusion of late produced evidence. The Special Master held that it was a close case and that either outcome would be defensible. The Court however, denied Starent’s motion to dismiss but did award attorney’s fees for the filing of Starent’s motion.

Continue Reading Court Barely Denies Motion to Dismiss for Delayed Interrogatory Answers

Nova Design Build, Inc. v. Grace Hotels, LLC., No. 08 C 2855, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 25, 2009) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted in part and denied in part plaintiffs’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss defendants’ counterclaim copyright infringement case. Plaintiffs claimed that they developed plans for a Holiday Inn Express hotel defendants planned to build, and that defendants infringed the copyrights in plaintiffs’ plans by revising them with another firm and using them without plaintiffs’ permission. The Court previously held that plaintiffs’ copyright claim was sufficiently pled — click here for more on that opinion and the case generally in the Blog’s archives. After that opinion, defendants answered the complaint and filed a counterclaim seeking among other things declaratory relief. The Court dismissed the counterclaim as to plaintiff Annex whom defendants agreed should be dismissed. And the Court struck defendants’ request that plaintiffs’ complaint be struck because the Court already denied defendants’ Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.
But the Court denied to dismiss defendants’ counterclaim. Plaintiffs argued that the counterclaim should be dismissed because it was not clearly pled, the legal basis was not specifically identified and it lacked factual detail. But the Court held that notice pleading did not require good grammar or organization, nor were specific facts required. Because defendants’ counterclaim put plaintiffs on notice that their copyright was allegedly a derivative works to which defendants maintained certain rights. To the extent plaintiffs believed additional information, the appropriate remedy was a Rule 12(e) motion for a more definite statement. But the Court noted that a more definite statement was not required in this case because defendants’ counterclaim put plaintiffs on notice.

Continue Reading Notice Pleading Does Not Require a Claim be Well Written

Nova Design Build, Inc. v. Grace Hotels, LLC., No. 08 C 2855, 2008 WL 4450305 (N.D. Ill. Sep. 30, 2008) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan denied defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ copyright infringement and related state law claims. Plaintiffs claimed that they developed plans for a Holiday Inn Express hotel defendants planned to build, and that defendants infringed the copyrights in plaintiffs’ plans by revising them with another firm and using them without plaintiffs’ permission. The Court held that plaintiffs’ copyright claim was sufficiently pled. Plaintiffs alleged ownership of a copyright, attaching the copyright registration, and that defendants infringed the copyright. Defendants’ argument that plaintiffs’ plan were a derivative work were beyond the pleadings and, therefore, not appropriate for a Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion.
Similarly, defendants’ argument that plaintiffs, as authors of a derivative work, lacked standing to bring their copyright suit also was beyond the scope of a Rule 12(b) motion to dismiss. Furthermore, it was not ripe for decision because defendants made the argument for the first time on reply.
The Court also held that defendants’ arguments as to plaintiffs’ state law claims were beyond the complaint and, therefore, not sufficient for a motion to dismiss.

Continue Reading Court Does Not Consider Facts Beyond Complaint in Rule 12(b) Motions

Aguila Records, Inc. v. Federico, No. 07 C 3993, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 10, 2007) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan denied defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff’s Lanham Act, copyright infringement and breach of contract complaint. Plaintiff, a music management and recording agency, alleged that it entered into an oral agreement with individual defendant Sergio Federico (“Federico”), a musician, giving plaintiff exclusive rights to Federico’s and his musical group Alacranes Musical’s (“Alacranes”) recordings. Shortly after agreeing to a ten-year extension of the agreement, plaintiff alleged that Federico quit the Alacranes and joined defendant musical group Aliados de la Sierra (“Sierra”). Plaintiff claimed that defendants infringed its scorpion trademark by using scorpion logos in their promotional material. Plaintiff also alleged that defendants violated plaintiff’s copyright in the song “Por Tu Amor” – click here to watch the Alacranes’ music video on YouTube – by performing the song without authorization. Defendants argued that plaintiff failed to state its claims because several of plaintiff’s allegations were false, unsupported or otherwise incorrect. But the Court held that plaintiff had sufficiently pled its claims and that a Rule 12(b)(6) motion was not the appropriate vehicle for evaluating the strength of the evidence.

Continue Reading Court Does Not Weigh Evidence in a Motion to Dismiss

DeVore Family Partnership LLP v. McDougal Littell, No. 06 C 3484, 2006 WL 2861116 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 26, 2006) (Conlon, J.).

Judge Conlon refused to dismiss or strike plaintiff’s claim for defendants’ profits from sales of a textbook which allegedly included plaintiff’s copyrighted photograph.  Plaintiff alleged that it licensed defendants to include plaintiff’s photograph of the Himalaya Mountains in a run of no more than 40,000 textbooks, but that defendants made almost 1.5 million copies of the book.  Plaintiff sought, among other things, defendants’ profits from the allegedly infringing textbooks.

Continue Reading Liberal Pleading Standards Preserve a Claim for Copyright Infringement Profits