WORLD OF LEGGINGS vs. LEGGINGS WORLD…are you confused?

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The Plaintiff in this trademark lawsuit, California-based Muscle Flex, Inc., operates a hosiery website, worldofleggings.com, which boasts “5.5 million visitors, 27 million views, and millions of dollars in sales across the United States.”

The Defendants operate several hosiery stores called “Leggings World” inside Simon Property Group (“Simon”) properties across the Midwest and Northeast. Simon is included as a defendant in the lawsuit.

When Muscle Flex complained of the infringement to Simon, Simon responded by removing instances of “Leggings World” from its website and digital directories inside its malls, and sending cease-and-desist letters to tenants operating under the “Leggings World” name in its properties.

However, this didn’t satisfy Muscle Flex, which also wants to receive some money for damages, leading to some slight lawyer shade:

Simon has seemingly thrown in the towel on Leggings World, removing it from all Simon online directories (really, go try to find a store online), but we’ll see whether Leggings World decides to challenge Muscle Flex and continue operating the physical stores. Stay tuned for updates.

Muscle Flex, Inc. v. Simon Property Group, L.P. et al.

Court Case Number: 1:18-cv-1140
File Date: Friday, April 13, 2018
Plaintiff: Muscle Flex, Inc.
Plaintiff Counsel: Christopher A. Brown of Woodard, Emhardt, Moriarty, McNett & Henry LLP, Connor Lynch of Lynch LLP (pro hac vice)
Defendants: Simon Property Group, L.P., Simon Property Group, Inc., Matt Murat Dagli, New Purple LLC
Cause: Trademark Infringement, Unfair Competition, False Designation of Origin, Trademark Dilution, Common Law Trademark Infringement, Unjust Enrichment
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Tanya Walton Pratt
Referred To: Tim A. Baker

Complaint:

Indiana power sport vehicle company sues Canadian competitor over infringing parts

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The Plaintiff in this lawsuit, ASW, LLC, is a Columbia City, Indiana-based company that designs and sells power sport vehicles and related parts. ASW owns the registered trademarks AMERICAN SPORTWORKS and LANDMASTER.

The Defendant, a Canadian corporation, is alleged to be selling competing products using identical marks from an infringing website, americansportworksparts.com. It’s not clear from the Complaint (below) whether the infringing products are repackaged/refurbished items (which can void a warranty) or just plain ol’ counterfeit goods, although it seems closer to the latter. 

ASW, LLC v. Bisson et al.

Court Case Number: 1:18-cv-00086-TLS-PRC
File Date: Monday, April 9, 2018
Plaintiff: ASW, LLC
Plaintiff Counsel: Linda A. Polley, Charles J. Heiny of Haller & Colvin, P.C.
Defendants: Bisson, 1837967 Alberta Ltd.
Cause: Federal Trademark Infringement, Federal Unfair Competition, False Designation of Origin, Trademark Dilution, Common Law Trademark Infringement, False Designation of Origin, Common Law Unfair Competition, Common Law Passing Off
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: Theresa L. Springmann
Referred To: Paul R. Cherry

Complaint:

Vera Bradley sues numerous eBay sellers over counterfeit goods

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The defendants in this lawsuit are alleged to have sold counterfeit Vera Bradley products on eBay since as early as January 2016.

Vera Bradley Designs, Inc. v. Denny et al.

Court Case Number: 1:18-cv-00070
File Date: Monday, March 26, 2018
Plaintiff: Vera Bradley Designs, Inc.
Plaintiff Counsel: Mark D. Scudder of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Michael R. Gray of Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett, P.A.
Defendants: Jennifer Denny, Austin Devin 2 Denny Boys, LLC, Darlene Nicholas, Amanda Whitfield, and Ilene Simpson
Cause: Trademark Infringement, Copyright Infringement, False Designation of Origin, Unfair Competition, Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices, Common Law Unfair Competition, Unjust Enrichment
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: TBD
Referred To: TBD

Complaint:

Oakley sues So. Indiana Gas Stations over Counterfeit Eyewear

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The Defendants in this lawsuit, the owners of gas stations located in Batesville, Osgood, and New Point, Indiana, are accused of selling counterfeit Oakley and Ray-Ban sunglasses. The counterfeit products were observed for sale in the stores by Plaintiff’s representatives and are believed to originate from a common source, to be determined.

Stay tuned for updates.

Luxottica Group et al. v. Avni Petroleum, Inc. et al.

Court Case Number: 1:18-cv-0537-WTL-MJD
File Date: Friday, February 23, 2018
Plaintiff: Luxottica Group S.p.A., Oakley Inc.
Plaintiff Counsel: Brent H. Blakely, Jessica C. Covington of Blakely Law Group
Defendant: Avni Petroleum, Inc., Delaware BP, Pari, Inc. dba Batesville Food Mart, Rani Petroleum, Inc. dba Batesville Shell, SAI Petroleum Inc. dba New Point Food Mart, Does 1-10
Cause: Federal Trademark Infringement, False Designation of Origin and False Advertising, Common Law Trademark Infringement, Common Law Unfair Competition, Unjust Enrichment
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: William T. Lawrence
Referred To: Mark J. Dinsmore

Complaint: 

Indiana Trademark Registration

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Clients often inquire whether they should register their trademarks at the State or Federal level.  Starting with the assumption that even small local businesses may encounter a challenge to their trademark in the future, I generally try to impress upon them the advantages of federal registration.  After all, many of my clients end up being very successful and seek to expand outside of Indiana’s borders. With the exponential growth of “e-commerce,” the Internet is providing opportunities for national and global expansion, even for the smallest Indiana businesses.  It is therefore important for businesses of all types and sizes to choose and protect their trademarks with care…often this can mean protection at BOTH the State and Federal level.

Here’s a quick primer on registration of a trademark in Indiana:

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Trademarks are registered with the Indiana Secretary of State.

Registration of a trademark with the Indiana Secretary of State creates a legal presumption of the registrant’s ownership of the mark and the registrant’s exclusive right to use the mark in Indiana commerce in connection with the goods or services described in the application.  (A federal registration would protect your trademark in all 50 states.)

The Indiana Trademark Act (IC 24-2) protects words, phrases, symbols or designs, or any combinations thereof when they are used to distinguish the source of the goods or services rendered by one party from the goods or services of another party. Marks are checked against other marks registered in Indiana, but not against corporate, fictitious, or assumed names.

Indiana trademark rights arise from actual use of the mark in commerce, i.e. no “intent-to-use” applications.

A mark cannot be registered until it has been used in Indiana. Indiana defines a mark being “used” when it is placed in any manner on the goods or their containers or on the tags or labels affixed thereto, or when it is used to identify the services of one person and distinguish them from the services of others, and such goods or services are sold, otherwise distributed, or rendered in this state.

So what are some of the main benefits of state registration over federal registration?  It’s cheaper (State: $10/class vs. Federal $325/class) and quicker.  I’ve seen turnaround of weeks, not years as with the USPTO.  It can be a good remedy for a purely local entity.  State registration provides an increased level of trademark protection…at least you can claim protection on your “home turf.”  However, in the long run, I’d recommend that any entity which anticipates expanding outside of Indiana, particularly via Internet “e-commerce,” should seek federal trademark registration to best protect their valuable trademark rights.

I look forward to hearing from proponents of State registration…how has an Indiana State registration uniquely benefitted either you or your clients?

Avoiding Loss of Trademark Rights

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You’ve spent time, energy and money developing and protecting your trademark …possibly even obtaining a federal trademark registration. Now what? Going forward, you need to be careful to avoid several pitfalls that can result in the loss of your valuable trademark rights. Set forth below are several important considerations you should think about to avoid losing your rights as you continue to use your trademark and enforce your trademark rights against third parties:

1. Failure to use the trademark. Since trademark rights are based on use, a trademark owner must continue to use the trademark properly in order to avoid forfeiture of rights by abandonment. Non-use occurs when a trademark owner stops using the mark and does not intend to resume use. Further, intention not to resume use may be inferred from a trademark owner’s failure to use the mark for three consecutive years. Once a mark is deemed abandoned, all rights to the trademark are lost.

2. Authorizing uncontrolled use of the trademark. Trademark rights can be lost if you license the trademark to others but don’t take adequate steps to monitor the style and quality of products or services associated with the trademark. After all, trademark law grants you exclusive use of the trademark in exchange for giving the consuming public a reliable indication of quality. If the level of quality falls below a certain level, you may be setting yourself up for cancellation of your trademark right.

3. Failure to enforce your rights against infringers. If you continually allow known infringers to violate your trademark rights, you effectively give up the right to challenge their use. While this might not result in cancellation of your registration, you are undermining your trademark by wilfully adopting a very narrow scope of protection.

4. Generic use. Generic use refers to the situation in which a trademark becomes so familiar that the distinction of the mark diminishes.  We’re all familiar with the following trademarks which were allowed to become generic over time: aspirin, escalator, linoleum. Rights to those trademarks were lost because appropriate steps were not taken to prevent the public from coming to regard the marks as generic products or services, rather than particular brand names.

If you have concerns about whether you are adequately protecting your trademarks, consider consulting a trademark professional who can help you implement procedures for maintaining and enforcing your rights.

Shoe retailer Shoe Carnival sues two counterfeit websites

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Shoe retailer Shoe Carnival brings this lawsuit against the owners of two domains, daretodreamwebdesign.com and afordrunning.com, which appear to be counterfeit Shoe Carnival websites.

I used to love shopping at Shoe Carnival. I remember the frequent sale announcements over the intercom and the booth for catching blowing cash.

SCLC, Inc. v. Kettering et al

Court Case Number: 3:17-cv-00193-RLY-MPB
File Date: November 22, 2017
Plaintiff: SCLC, Inc.
Plaintiff Counsel: Keith E. Rounder, Gary K. Price of Terrell, Baugh, Salmon & Born, LLP
Defendant: Marie Kettering, Lanny Tyndall
Cause: Trade Dress Infringement, Unfair Competition, Trademark Infringement, Common Law Trademark Infringement, Common Law Unfair Competition
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Richard L. Young
Referred To: Matthew P. Brookman

Complaint: 

Update 11/30/2017: 

Shoe Carnival has requested a Temporary Restraining Order for the purpose of ordering search engines to remove the offending websites.

Copyright lawsuit over movie script removed to Northern District of Indiana

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This lawsuit was removed from St. Joseph Circuit Court, Indiana, to the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division based on copyright preemption.

The Plaintiff alleges that he sent an original script and revisions to Defendant, which they used to create and sell a motion picture.

Jones v. Brioche and Mayo, LLC

Court Case Number: 3:17-cv-00289
File Date: Friday, November 3, 2017
Plaintiff: William Jones
Plaintiff Counsel: Andrew B. Jones, Margaret Marnocha of Jones Law Office LLC
Defendant: Brioche and Mayo, LLC
Cause: Breach of Contract, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Unjust Enrichment
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: TBD
Referred To: TBD

Notice of Removal:

Project management company files trademark lawsuit against potential scam artists

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Plaintiff operates a project management training company called “Project Management Academy.” Plaintiff has used the trademark since 2009 and owns several related federal trademark registrations.

The Defendants are accused of operating a similar company (some call it a scam) using the “Project Management Academy” or “PMA” trademarks.

Educate 360, LLC v. Patchree Patchrint et al.

Court Case Number: 4:17-cv-00078
File Date: Friday, October 6, 2017
Plaintiff: Educate 360, LLC
Plaintiff Counsel: William P. Kelley, David M. Stupich of Stuart & Branigin LLP
Defendant:  Patchree Patchrint a/k/a Patty Jones and Anthony Christopher Jones
Cause: Declaratory Relief, Trademark Infringement, False Designation of Origin, Cybersquatting, Common Law Trademark Infringement, Common Law Passing Off/Unfair Competition
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: TBD
Referred To: TBD

Complaint:

Terre Haute Endocrinology Center sues competing medical center for not having an Endocrinologist in its “Endocrinology Department”

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The Plaintiffs in this lawsuit are an endocrinologist and his medical center in Terre Haute, Indiana, providing endocrinology care and services.

The Defendant is a competing medical center in Terre Haute. Allegedly, the Defendant lost its last board-certified endocrinology physician in 2014 but continues to advertise that it has an “Endocrinology Department.”

Per the Complaint (below):

“due to the use of ‘endocrinology’ in its advertising and representations to the public, patients and potential patients are led to believe that there is a physician practicing at Defendant’s facility that is board-certified in the specialty of endocrinology.”

To Plaintiff, which is a competing medical center in the area that does employ a board-certified endocrinologist, this constitutes false advertising and unfair competition.

The case was originally filed in Vigo Superior Court but removed to the Southern District of Indiana.

Pittman et al. v. Union Medical Group LLC

Court Case Number:2:17-cv-00393-JMS-MPB
File Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Plaintiff: Isaiah Pittman IV, MD, HPW Center For Diabetes, LLC
Plaintiff Counsel: Paul J. Jungers of Wagner, Crawford, Gambill and Jungers
Defendant: Union Medical Group LLC
Cause: False Advertising, Indiana Unfair Competition
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Jane Magnus-Stinson
Referred To: Matthew P. Brookman

Complaint: