Billy Goat IP LLC v. Billy Goat Chip Co., LLC, No. 17 C 9154, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 7, 2018) (Dow, J.). Judge Dow denied defendant Billy Goat Chip’s (“BG Chip”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff Billy Goat IP’s (“Billy Goat”) Lanham Act trademark infringement, unfair competition and related state … Continue Reading
Flava Works, Inc. v. Gunter d/b/a myVidster.com, et al., No. 17 C 1171, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 30, 2018) (Gettleman, J.). Judge Gettleman granted in part defendants’ (collectively “myVidster.com”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff’s copyright, Lanham Act and related state law claims in this dispute regarding plaintiff’s adult entertainment website, … Continue Reading
Judge Holderman granted defendant Trading Technologies' ("TT") Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and 9(b) motion to dismiss plaintiff GL Trade's false advertising, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices case alleging that TT misrepresented the scope of its patents. Initially, GL Trade's Lanham Act false advertising and unfair competition claims were not preempted by patent law. The Federal Circuit held that Lanham Act unfair competition claims based upon marketplace statements were not preempted because the Lanham Act claim required a showing of bad faith. And the allegedly false patent markings were marketplace statements. As a matter of law, TT's actions could not have been bad faith, although what constitutes bad faith in patent-related communications was "somewhat nebulous." TT's belief that the marked products read on the marked patents was legally plausible. GL Trade, therefore, could not have acted in bad faith. Similarly, it was legally plausible for TT to believe that it could mark covered products even when they were not being used in a patented way.
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American Taxi Dispatch, Inc. v. American Metro Tax & Limo Co., __ F. Supp.2d __, 2008 WL 4616855 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 20, 2008) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve permanently enjoined defendants' (collectively "Metro") use of trademarks infringing plaintiff American Taxi's American Taxi marks, and awarded American Taxi damages in the amount of Metro's gross sales as well as attorney's fees. American Taxi began using its marks in 1975. Metro incorporated and began using their American Metro Taxi marks in early 2007. American Taxi filed the instant suit for trademark infringement, Lanham Act unfair competition and related state law claims. Metro initially defended itself, but after repeatedly missing deadlines th Court entered a default judgment and allowed American Taxi to submit proofs, which led to this opinion.
Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(c), the award could not exceed in form or amount what was demanded in the pleadings. The Court held that the complaint justified a permanent injunction. American Taxi alleged that Metro's infringing acts harmed American Taxi's goodwill, and the Seventh Circuit has held that damage to goodwill can constitute irreparable harm. And American Taxi backed up its complaint with an affidavit detailing actual confusion between the marks. Furthermore, a tailored injunction would not put Metro out of business. In fact, Metro's owner claimed that Metro had been dissolved. So, the balance of harms weighed in American Taxi's favor. And finally, there is a public interest in knowing whom they conduct business with, which favored an injunction. The Court, therefore, permanently enjoined Metro and its affiliates, successors and assigns from using its marks or any others that were confusingly similar to the American Taxi marks.
The Court then awarded damages in the amount of Metro's provable gross sales. The Court focused its analysis on the Seventh Circuit's recent WMS Gaming, Inc. v. WPC Prods. Ltd. decision in which the Seventh Circuit held that plaintiff need only prove gross sales and then the burden shifts to defendant to prove its costs -- click here to read the Blog's post about that decision. As a result, where defendant is in default, plaintiff's may be awarded defendant's gross profits.
Finally, the Court held that the case was exceptional, warranting an award of attorney's fees. But the Court limited the amount of fees because the request was "less than a model of clarity" and it was not clear from the submission which of the time entries were appropriate.
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Hyundai Construc. Equip. U.S.A., Inc. v. Chris Johnson Equip., Inc., No. 06 C 3238, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct 21, 2008) (Leinenweber, Sen. J.).
Judge Leinenweber, having previously granted plaintiff summary judgment of Lanham Act unfair competition and deceptive trade practices,* enjoined defendant's continued sale of gray market goods and use of plaintiffs' trademarks and awarded plaintiffs damages and costs. The Court awarded plaintiffs defendant's profits from sales of gray market construction equipment (equipment made abroad for sale abroad that was imported to the United States without authority for resale), but the Court held that awarding plaintiffs a multiple of defendant's actual damages would be inappropriately punitive. Additionally, the Court gave defendant an opportunity to prove its costs before entering a final damages amount.
The Court also entered a permanent injunction. The Court, however, denied plaintiffs' request that defendant have to provide plaintiffs and the Court a report proving defendants' compliance with the injunction. Such a requirement was unduly burdensome.
Finally, the Court awarded plaintiffs their costs, but held attorney's fees were not appropriate because the case was not exceptional. Among other reasons the case was not exceptional, the Court noted evidence that defendants "apparent pains" to warn customers that defendants' products lacked a warranty and came from overseas. And the Court held that no actual confusion had yet been proven.
* Click here for the prior decision in the Blog's archives.
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Foboha GMBH v. Gram Tech., Inc., No. 08 C 969, 2008 WL 4619795 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 15, 2008) (Grady, J.).
Judge Grady denied defendants' (collectively "Gram") Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiffs' (collectively "Foboha") Lanham Act unfair competition and related state law claims. Foboha alleged that Gram made false and misleading statements about Gram's patent and about Foboha's alleged infringement of the patent. In particular, Gram allegedly claimed that its technology was patented while its application was still being processed and that Gram made false statements about the status of the reexamination filed by Foboha. The Court held that Foboha's claims were governed by Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b)'s heightened pleading requirements because they were based upon Gram's allegedly false and misleading statements. And at least for the statements allegedly made about the patent during reexam, Foboha met the heightened standard by explaining what statements were made, when and where they were made, who made them and how they were made.
The Court did, however, hold that Gram's direct communications, in person or in letters to individuals, did not constitute commercial advertising and, therefore, did not constitute Lanham Act unfair competition. But Gram's statements on its website and press releases could constitute commercial advertising.
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Capitol Indemnity Corp. v. Elston Self Serv. Wholesale Grocs., Inc., No. 04 C 6536, 2008 WL 696919 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 13, 2008) (Pallmeyer, J.).
Judge Pallmeyer held that the advertising injury claim in plaintiff Capitol Indemnity's ("CI") insurance policy required that it defend defendants the "Elston Grocery" defendants in the underlying trademark infringement, unfair competition and Illinois Deceptive Trade Practices Act ("IDTPA") claims. In the underlying litigation, Lorillard Tobacco accused Elston Grocery of selling counterfeit Newport cigarettes using Newport cigarette advertisements.
The advertising injury clause covered infringement of "copyright, title, or slogan" and "[m]isappropriation of advertising ideas." The Court held that "title" does not mean just the title of a work, but also encompasses, among other things, trademarks and names. CI, therefore, had a duty to defend Elston Grocery against Lorillard's trademark infringement claims. A duty to defend was also created by the trademark infringement claims because they accused Elston Grocery of misappropriating Lorillard's advertising ideas - its trademarks and advertisements.
CI argued that there was an exclusion for allegedly intentional acts. But the Court held the exclusion did not apply, even though Lorillard pled intent, because intent was not required for trademark infringement.
Additionally, it did not matter that the policy covered only compensatory damages. Lorillard sought punitive damages, but they would only be awarded if compensatory damages were awarded. So, the punitive damages exclusion did not alter CI's duty to defend.
Finally, the Court declined to rule on indemnity because Lorillard's claims had not been finally resolved. An indemnity ruling regarding an ongoing case was inappropriate because it would be an advisory opinion.
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CardioNet, Inc. v. LifeWatch Corp., No. 07 C 6625, 2008 WL 567223 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 27, 2008) (Conlon, J.).
Judge Conlon granted in part defendants' (collectively, "LifeWatch") motion to dismiss plaintiff CardioNet's state law claims as preempted by the Illinois Trade Secrets Act ("ITSA"). CardioNet alleged that LifeWatch improperly obtained one of CardioNet's prescription-only MCOT remote heart monitoring devices by getting a false prescription for it. LifeWatch then tested the MCOT by, among other things, simulating a heart attack. Based upon the tests, LifeWatch gathered allegedly trade secret information from the MCOT.
The Court held that CardioNet's conversion claim was preempted to the extent it was based upon gathering trade secret information from the MCOT because conversion of trade secrets is a restatement of misappropriation. But the claim was not preempted as it related to conversion of the MCOT device.
Similarly, CardioNet's fraud claim was preempted to the extent the alleged fraud was acquiring the trade secret or confidential information, but the claim was not preempted to the extent the alleged fraud was acquiring the MCOT device.
CardioNet's intentional interference with contract claim was not preempted. The alleged wrong was not the alleged misappropriation, but interference with the contract signed by the patient to get the MCOT.
Finally, CardioNet's unfair competition claim was preempted. The alleged unfair competition was possession and use of the alleged trade secret information taken from the MCOT, the same acts forming the trade secret claim.
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Flentye v. Kathrein, __ F. Supp.2d __, 2007 WL 1175576 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 18, 2007) (Filip, J.). Judge Filip denied defendants’ motions to dismiss, except as to plaintiffs’ claim for punitive damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, because Illinois law does not allow punitives for IIED. Plaintiffs (collectively "Flentye") promoted apartment rental services , … Continue Reading
MPC Containment Sys., Ltd. v. Moreland, No. 05 C 6973, 2006 WL 2331148 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 10, 2006) (Aspen, J.). Judge Aspen granted defendants’ Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff’s Lanham Act unfair competition claim for failure to meet the Rule 9(b) heightened pleading requirements. Plaintiff’s bare allegation that the individual defendants made misrepresentations to … Continue Reading