Indiana Trademark Litigation Update – Horn v. Wilson

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Plaintiff, the Shipshewana Spice Company, has sold quality spices under the trademark “HAPPY SALT” since 1994. Defendant allegedly operates a website selling knockoff spices.

The product comparison image from the Complaint (full text below) seems like a slam dunk for the Plaintiff. Similar product name, company name (Shipshewana Spice Company vs. Shipshewana Best Spice Company…that’s just mean), packaging, etc. It’s pretty bad.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 9.10.14 AM

One important question is how has Plaintiff let this go on since January 2013? The public health and safety considerations alone of having counterfeit spices on the market would seem to beg for injunctive relief. Waiting too long to take action on a trademark claim can invite concurrent use arguments or, worse, a laches defense.

Stay tuned for updates.

Kevin Horn v. Bob Wilson

Court Case Number: 3:15-cv-00524-JVB-CAN
File Date: Friday, November 6, 2015
Plaintiff: Kevin Horn
Plaintiff Counsel: Michael D. Marston, Garrick T. Lankford of Botkin & Hall LLP
Defendant: Bob Wilson
Cause: Trademark Infringement, Trademark Counterfeiting, False Description, Trademark Dilution, Unfair Competition
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Joseph S. Van Bokkelen
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Christopher A. Nuechterlein

Complaint:

Indiana Trademark Litigation Update – Hartfield Company v. Jeffrey Hartfield

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After 35 years of working for the company bearing his father’s name, son sought to go out on his own. With 35 years of experience in one industry, he of course decided to start a similar company. But could he start a company also bearing his own (and his father’s) last name? Not if the new owner of daddy’s company has anything to say about it.

Trademark and surnames are often problematic. Here’s some basic info to consider as you analyze the Complaint:

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 9.39.13 AM

Think HARTFIELD?

Hartfield Company Inc. et al v. Jeffrey Hartfield et al

Court Case Number: 4:15-cv-00143-SEB-WGH
File Date: Monday, October 5, 2015
Plaintiff: Hartfield Company Inc., National Financial Partners Corp.
Plaintiff Counsel: Kendall Millard of Barnes & Thornburg LLP
Defendant: Jeffrey Hatfield, Hartfield Solutions LLC
Cause: Federal Unfair Competition and False Designation of Origin, Common Law Unfair Competition and Trademark Infringement
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Sarah Evans Barker
Referred To: Magistrate Judge William G. Hussmann, Jr.

Complaint:

Indiana Trademark Litigation Update – Indigo Vapor Enterprises v. Indigo Vapor Company

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Plaintiff, based in South Bend, Indiana,  is an international seller of vaping and e-cigarette materials, including e-juice and holds two U.S. registrations (word mark and stylized) for INDIGO VAPOR. Plaintiff has been using its trademarks since September 2012.

Defendant, an Arizona company, is also selling e-cigarette and vaping products under the mark INDIGO VAPOR from the domain indigovaporcompany.com. It is not clear from the Complaint when Defendant first began using its trademark, although Defendant appears to be the junior user. Reddit communications detailed in the Complaint indicate that Defendant was aware of Plaintiff’s use of the INDIGO VAPOR trademark when selecting its business name.

Indigo Vapor Enterprises LLC v. Indigo Vapor Company LLC et al

Court Case Number: 3:15-cv-00451-RLM-CAN
File Date: Thursday, October 1, 2015
Plaintiff: Indigo Vapor Enterprises LLC
Plaintiff Counsel: John A. Drake of LaDue Curran & Kuehn LLC
Defendant: Indigo Vapor Company LLC, Robert Lee Martin, Charles Nandier
Cause: Federal Trademark Infringement, Federal Unfair Competition, False Designation of Origin, Federal Trademark Dilution, Federal Cybersquatting, Common Law Trademark Infringement, Common Law Unfair Competition
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Robert L. Miller, Jr.
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Christopher A. Nuechterlein

Indiana Copyright Litigation Update – Professional Transportation Inc. v. Robert E. Warmka

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This lawsuit, removed from Vanderburgh Superior Court to the Southern District of Indiana, involves a dispute over a “Driver’s Manual.” Defendant is alleged to have left the employ of Plaintiff and utilized portions of their proprietary driver’s manual with his new employer. Defendant removed the lawsuit to federal court.

Professional Transportation Inc. v. Robert E. Warmka

Court Case Number: 3:15-cv-00134-RLY-WGH
File Date: Monday, September 28, 2015
Plaintiff: Professional Transportation Inc.
Defendant: Robert E. Warmka
Cause: Indiana Trade Secret Violation, Unfair Competition, Copyright Infringement
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Richard L. Young
Referred To: Magistrate Judge William G. Hussmann, Jr.

Notice of Removal:

Complaint:

Pro Se Plaintiff sues The Mind Trust, Indianapolis Public Schools for Copyright Infringement (Again)

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At its core, this is a copyright lawsuit involving educational “models.” However, this lawsuit is particularly interesting for several reasons. Here are a few:

  1. It’s a pro se plaintiff, hence a non-traditional intellectual property complaint. While only copyright claims seem at issue, the complaint was filed (again, by a pro se) as a 42 USC 1983 civil rights complaint.
  2. Several large, high-profile defendants. Which will take the lead? The complaint focuses on the “Bridges to Success Education School Model” and the “Phalen Leadership Academies Education School Model.”
  3. The copyright application (included in the complaint) was apparently also a pro se copyright application.
  4. Plaintiff has requested a Cease and Desist Order preventing several schools systems from using specific educational “Models” until the lawsuit is resolved.
  5. This is the first “intellectual property” lawsuit filed in the Northern District of Indiana since June 19. Welcome back!

For now, I’ll leave it to the Defendants’ lawyers to parse all the facts and allegations in the Complaint. Stay tuned for updates.

Angela E. Brooks-Ngwenya v. The Mind Trust et al

Court Case Number: 1:15-cv-00255-JD-SLC
File Date: Friday, September 11, 2015
Plaintiff: Angela E. Brooks-Ngwenya
Plaintiff Counsel: Angela E. Brooks-Ngwenya – Pro Se
Defendant: The Mind Trust, United Way of Central Indiana, Central Indiana Education Alliance, Phalen Leadership Academies, Indianapolis Public Schools
Cause: Copyright Infringement
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Jon E. DeGuilio
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Susan L. Collins

Complaint:

Prior Court of Appeals Decision:

Indiana Trademark Litigation Update – Baby Trend v. Phil and Teds Most Excellent Buggy Company

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Plaintiff Baby Trend has used the registered NAVIGATOR trademark in connection with strollers and related products for over fifteen years.

Defendant, a New Zealand limited company, is alleged to be selling a stroller under an identical trademark (see Complaint below for photographs). Plaintiff’s cease-and-desist communications to Defendant beginning in June 2015 have proven unsuccessful, hence this lawsuit.

Baby Trend Inc. v. Phil and Teds Most Excellent Buggy Company Ltd.

Court Case Number: 1:15-cv-01353-TWP-TAB
File Date: Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Plaintiff: Baby Trend Inc.
Plaintiff Counsel: R. Trevor Carter, Brad R. Maurer of Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
Defendant: Phil and Teds Most Excellent Buggy Company Ltd.
Cause: Federal Trademark Infringement, Federal Unfair Competition and False Designation of Origin, Common Law Unfair Competition, Common Law Trademark Infringement
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Tanya Walton Pratt
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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