Indiana Trademark Litigation Update – 7E Spa Licensing Group v. 7EFS of Wheatridge & 7EFS of Highlands Ranch

Here are two related cases (same Plaintiff) where licensing arrangements went bad:

7E Spa Licensing Group LLC et al v. Susan Dier et al

Court Case Number: 1:15-cv-01111-RLY-TAB
File Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Plaintiff: 7E Spa Licensing Group LLC, 7E Holdings 1 LLC, 7E LLC
Defendant: Susan Dier, 7EFS of Wheatridge LLC, Spectrum Medspa
Cause: Trademark Infringement, Unfair Competition, Indiana Crime Victims Act, Breach of Licensing Agreement, Breach of Operating Agreement, Breach of Equipment Lease, Tortious Interference, Breach of Fiduciary Duties
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Richard L. Young
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker

7E Spa Licensing Group LLC et al v. 7EFS of Highlands Ranch LLC et al

Court Case Number: 1:15-cv-01109-TWP-TAB
File Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Plaintiff: 7E Spa Licensing Group LLC, 7E Holdings 1 LLC, 7E LLC
Defendant: 7EFS of Highlands Ranch LLC, Spectrum Medspa, Gordon Smith, Jane Smith
Cause: Trademark Infringement, Unfair Competition, Indiana Crime Victims Act, Breach of Licensing Agreement, Breach of Operating Agreement, Breach of Equipment Lease, Tortious Interference, Breach of Fiduciary Duties
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Tanya Walton Pratt
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker

Rich Bell Files Two More Copyright Complaints

Rich Bell has added two more cases to his docket (prior cases here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

Richard N. Bell v. American Dream Coalition et al

Court Case Number: 1:15-cv-01014-LJM-MJD
File Date: Saturday, June 27, 2015
Plaintiff: Richard N. Bell
Plaintiff Counsel: Richard N. Bell of Bell Law Firm
Defendant: American Dream Coalition, Thoreau Institute
Cause: Copyright Infringement
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Larry J. McKinney
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore

Richard N. Bell v. Randolph Ventures LLC

Court Case Number: 1:15-cv-01037-SEB-TAB
File Date: Thursday, July 02, 2015
Plaintiff: Richard N. Bell
Plaintiff Counsel: Richard N. Bell of Bell Law Firm
Defendant: Randolph Ventures LLC
Cause: Copyright Infringement
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Sarah Evans Barker
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker

Another Richard Bell Copyright Suit

Richard Bell is suing another website for allegedly using an unauthorized copy of his photograph of downtown Indianapolis. In a previous ruling against Mr. Bell (more here), the court was less than pleased with shortcomings in his complaint:

While providing specific facts is not necessary in a complaint, Mr. Bell is required to do more than recite legal conclusions of conduct with generic applicability to various defendants. . . . Legal conclusions are not afforded the assumption of truth. . . . [T]he Court will not afford the assumption of truth to the legal conclusions in Mr. Bell’s complaint. Neither does the Court find any factual allegations that are not legal conclusions, which could entitle him to relief and satisfy the standard of review.

Bell v. McCann, No. 1:13-CV-00799-TWP, 2014 WL 900961, at *2 (S.D. Ind. Mar. 7, 2014)

Mr. Bell did offer more than legal conclusions in this most recent Complaint (see below) by adding a factual allegation. And although he needed to allege “only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face,” Mr. Bell decided to unnecessarily add proof of these alleged facts. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). He included a link to a screenshot of the alleged infringement, although the link just resolves to a blank page.

In any case, don’t use pictures you find on the internet without authorization. Just don’t.

Richard N. Bell v. Proact Search LLC

Court Case Number: 1:15-cv-01005-JMS-DKL
File Date: Thursday, June 25, 2015
Plaintiff: Richard N. Bell
Plaintiff Counsel: Richard N. Bell of Bell Law Firm
Defendant: Proact Search LLC
Cause: Copyright Infringement and Unfair Competition
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Denise K. LaRue

Indiana Copyright Litigation Update – Bell v. Find Tickets

Richard Bell is once again alleging copyright infringement for unauthorized use of a photograph of the downtown Indianapolis skyline. This complaint is nearly identical to complaints he has previously filed. In some of those cases, the court has awarded Mr. Bell statutory damages of $2,500. However, the ruling in each of those cases was a default judgment because the defendants failed to answer and defend the allegations. On multiple occasions the court has granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. District Judge Tanya Pratt has, on multiple occasions, called out Mr. Bell for improper practice:

In his pleadings, Mr. Bell has alleged, but has not shown, that he is entitled to relief. His complaint contains formulaic labels and conclusions, but not facts. For example, the complaint under his copyright claim generically alleges that all-originally, twenty-two in total-Defendants: downloaded the Indianapolis Photo; willfully, recklessly, and falsely claimed that it owned the copyright to the photograph; published the photograph for commercial use; engaged in unfair trade practices and competition; and willfully engaged in these acts with oppression, fraud, and malice. . . . While providing specific facts is not necessary in a complaint, Mr. Bell is required to do more than recite legal conclusions of conduct with generic applicability to various defendants. . . . Legal conclusions are not afforded the assumption of truth. . . . [T]he Court will not afford the assumption of truth to the legal conclusions in Mr. Bell’s complaint. Neither does the Court find any factual allegations that are not legal conclusions, which could entitle him to relief and satisfy the standard of review.

Bell v. McCann, No. 1:13-CV-00799-TWP, 2014 WL 900961, at *2 (S.D. Ind. Mar. 7, 2014)

When looking to Mr. Bell’s motivation for filing this action, the Court finds that Mr. Bell’s motivation is questionable. Mr. Bell has filed a multiplicity of suits in this Court, each involving the same or similar infringement allegations. In many of these copyright infringement suits, Mr. Bell has improperly joined several defendants, thereby saving him extensive filing fees. In this case alone, Mr. Bell sued forty-seven defendants and then quickly offered settlements to defendants who were unwilling to pay for a legal defense. In some of Mr. Bell’s lawsuits, the district court determined that the improperly joined defendants should be severed, and severance was granted. Further, in this case, Mr. Bell lacked any evidentiary support for his claims against Mr. Lantz. The Court is persuaded by Mr. Lantz’s argument that the motivation of Mr. Bell in filing this action appears to be an attempt to extract quick, small settlements from many defendants instead of using the judicial process to protect his copyright against legitimate infringing actors. . . . In this case, Mr. Lantz took a stand against a plaintiff who was using his knowledge and status as a practicing attorney to file meritless suits and to attempt to outmaneuver the legal system.

Bell v. Lantz, No. 1:13-CV-00035-TWP, 2015 WL 3604174, at *2 & *3 (S.D. Ind. June 8, 2015)

After a cursory search, it appears that Mr. Bell has been awarded statutory damages of $40,000 ($2,500 x 16) from default judgments. In Bell v. Lantz, quoted above, Mr. Bell had to pay Mr. Lantz’s attorney’s fees, totaling $33,974.65.

Richard N. Bell v. Find Tickets, LLC

Court Case Number: 1:15-cv-00973-JMS-MJD
File Date: Friday, June 19, 2015
Plaintiff: Richard N. Bell
Plaintiff Counsel: Richard N. Bell of Bell Law Firm
Defendant: Find Tickets, LLC
Cause: Copyright Infringement and Unfair Competition
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore

Indiana Copyright Litigation Update: Baals LLC v. Pro Service Cleaning FW LLC

Baals LLC organizes the Baals Music Festival, a Fort Wayne event occurring annually since 2012. Baals (named for former mayor, Harry Baals) alleges that the defendants, Electric Promotions and Desiar, started organizing similar events in Fort Wayne after seeing the success of the Baals Music Festival. Baals claims that the defendants are using promotional materials that bear striking resemblance to Baals’. They further claim that the defendants are using promotional photographs and videos owned by Baals despite multiple requests to cease.

Baals LLC v. Pro Service Cleaning FW LLC et al

Court Case Number: 1:15-cv-00148-JVB-SLC
File Date: Monday, June 15, 2015
Plaintiff: Baals LLC
Plaintiff Counsel: Daniel D. Bobilya, Brandon J. Almas of Bonahoom & Bobilya LLC
Defendant: Pro Service Cleaning FW LLCDesiar Eyewear LLC
Cause: Unfair Competition, False Designation of Origin, Copyright Infringement, Unjust Enrichment
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Joseph S Van Bokkelen
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Susan L Collins

Indiana Trademark Litigation Update – HRHH Hotel/Casino v. Bella Vita

The Hardrock Hotel and Casino has been hosting a popular daytime party, The Rehab Pool Party, since 2004. Plaintiffs own multiple trademarks referring to daytime parties, and the Rehab name and logo. For the past few years, Bella Vita Lakeside restaurant and bar in Indianapolis has hosted weekly pool parties called “Rehab+ Sundays.” Plaintiffs allege that Defendant’s party logo is confusingly similar to Plaintiffs’ owned trademarks. In fact, a local blog claimed “Bella Vita borrowed the “Rehab” theme from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.” Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have refused to cease their infringing use and intend to continue to organize and host the “Rehab+ Sundays” pool parties in the Summer of 2015.

HRHH Hotel/Casino LLC et al v. Bella Vita LLC et al

Court Case Number: 1:15-cv-00791-WTL-MJD
File Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Plaintiff: HRHH Hotel/Casino LLC, HRHH IP, LLC
Plaintiff Counsel: Gregory F. Hahn, Craig E. Pinkus of Bose McKinney & Evans LLP
Defendant: Bella Vita LLC, Henri B. Najem
Cause: False Designation of Origin and Unfair Competition, Trademark Infringement, Dilution, Unfair Competition
CourtSouthern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge William T. Lawrence
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore

Concert Photographer File Another Copyright Lawsuit over Violation of Creative Commons License

Larry Philpot has filed another suit over alleged use of a photograph of Willie Nelson (related cases here, here, and here). In addition to infringement, Philpot is also claiming that defendant intentionally removed his copyright management information from the photograph.

Larry G. Philpot v. Gray Television, Inc. et al

Court Case Number: 3:15-cv-00145-JD-CAN
File Date: Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Plaintiff: Larry G. Philpot
Plaintiff Counsel: Larry G. Philpot – Pro Se
Defendant: Gray Television, Inc., Gray Television Group, Inc.
Cause: Copyright Infringement, Removal of Copyright Management Information, Contributory Copyright Infringement
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Jon E DeGuilio
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Christopher A Nuechterlein

Indiana Trade Secret Litigation Update – Precision Drone v. Channel Masters

Precision Drone, LLC designs and makes drones and software for use by farmers to monitor crops. According to the Complaint (see below), in September 2014, Precision made a deal with Channel Masters, LLC for Channel to purchase and resell the PaceSetter™ Drone in exchange for a commission on each drone and related parts sold. Precision gave Channel a demonstration drone and training manual and trained Channel’s agents on the use of the PaceSetter drone. As part of the Service Agreement, Channel agreed to not disclose confidential information and signed a non-compete. According to Precision’s complaint, Channel began working for AgriImage, a direct competitor in the agricultural drone market, and began promoting AgriImage drones instead of Precision drones.

At the Nebraska Power Farming Show in December 2014, Precision saw Channel’s agent, Tom Owen, using Precision images, training manual, and sales pitch to resell AgriImage drones. A picture of Mr. Owen using an image and “working the AgriImage booth” is Exhibit C in the court documents embedded below. Then, the very next day after the Nebraska farm show, Channel sent Precision a letter attempting to terminate the Service Agreement without cause. Precision has responded by filing a lawsuit for Breach of Contract and Misappropriation of Trade Secrets.

Precision Drone LLC v. Channel Masters LLC

Court Case Number: 1:15-cv-00476-LJM-TAB
File Date: Monday, March 23, 2015
Plaintiff: Precision Drone LLC
Plaintiff Counsel: John Stephen Terry, Russell B. Cate, and William Edwin Wendling, Jr., of Campbell Kyle Proffitt, LLP
Defendant: Channel Masters LLC
Cause: Breach of Contract, Misappropriation of Trade Secrets
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Larry J. McKinney
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker

Indiana Trademark Litigation Update – Agdia Inc. v. Jun Qiang Xia et al

Jun Q. Xia was employed by Agdia until 2001. After leaving the company, Xia allegedly violated the terms of a non-competition agreement. The ensuing lawsuit was resolved by a permanent injunction order in 2002. Later, Xia formed AC Diagnostics, which directly competes with Agdia. The AC Diagnostics website, acdiainc.com, is only one letter different than Agdia Inc and Xia allegedly covertly embedded the Agdia name into the website so that it was searchable without being visible.

Agdia Incorporated v. Jun Qiang Xia and AC Diagnostics, Inc.

Court Case Number: 3:15-cv-00075
File Date: Monday, February 16, 2015
Plaintiff: Agdia Incorporated
Plaintiff Counsel: James M. Lewis, Michael J. Hays of Tuesley Hall Konopa LLP
Defendant: Jun Qiang Xia, AC Diagnostics, Inc.
Cause: Trademark Infringement, False Designation of Origin and False Advertising, CyberPiracy, Common Law Unfair Competition, Common Law Trademark Infringement
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: Jon E. DeGuilio
Magistrate Judge: Christopher A. Nuechterlein