Mobile App Developer sued for Trademark Infringement, Counterfeiting

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The Plaintiff in this lawsuit, Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), operates one of the world’s largest energy markets with more than $29 billion in annual gross market energy transactions. MISO provides power to 15 U.S. states and Manitoba.

The Defendant, an individual, is alleged to have created a mobile application called “Midcontinent ISO with Realtime Dashboard” that infringes MISO’s trademarks and misleads the consuming public that MISO produced or approves of the application. The Complaint also raises a concern that users are being tricked into entering legitimate MISO credentials into the non-endorsed application.

The purpose of the mobile application is unclear from the Complaint, but it seems to provide information about Plaintiff’s services, tracking energy rates and the status of the power grid. As such, perhaps the Defendant can articulate a “nominative fair use” defense, if use of the Plaintiff’s trademark was necessary to identify the Plaintiff’s products or services, and the Plaintiff’s trademarks weren’t used to suggest endorsement. However, the Defendant’s app also prominently featured Plaintiff’s design mark, which could undermine any fair use defense.

A review of Defendant’s Google Play store shows that they offer similar apps for other energy providers, including NYISO:

The Google Play listing and the app photos don’t contain the usual disclaimers that you’d want to see to best support a “nominative fair use” defense. The Midcontinent ISO application was removed from the Google Play store on January 11, 2021 and remains down today. The Complaint requests injunctive relief to prevent a future relaunch of the application.

Stay tuned for updates.

Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. v. Sullivan

Court Case Number: 1:21-cv-00143-JRS-DML
File Date: January 18, 2021
Plaintiff: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.
Plaintiff Counsel: Kevin W. Kirsch, David A. Mancino, Kevin P. Flynn of Baker & Hostetler LLP
Defendant: James F. Sullivan a.k.a. Jim Cassidy
Cause: Trademark Infringement, Counterfeiting
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: James R. Sweeney II
Referred To: Debra McVicker Lynch

Complaint:

Liebowitz files Photography Lawsuit in Northern District of Indiana

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Famous (infamous) plaintiff’s lawyer Richard Liebowitz has filed another copyright lawsuit in Indiana over the unauthorized use of a photograph of Murlough Bay in Northern Ireland. The photograph has been removed from the Defendant’s website, http://www.anglotopia.net, but the Defendant was apparently not willing to meet Liebowitz’s customary settlement demands and thus a lawsuit was filed.

With a Complaint filed, it’s usual for the Defendant in these cases to weigh the costs/benefits of proceeding and likely choose to settle for a slightly higher amount than pre-Complaint. However, we’ll keep a close eye on this lawsuit to see whether Defendant has a viable defense strategy or whether they are just biding time until the eventual settlement.

Murlough Bay, Northern Ireland

Scnhebelt v. Anglotopia, LLC

Court Case Number: 3:21-cv-00040-JD-MGG
File Date: January 18, 2021
Plaintiff: Stefan Schnebelt
Plaintiff Counsel: Richard Liebowitz of Liebowitz Law Firm, PLLC
Defendant: Anglotopia, LLC
Cause: Copyright Infringement, Integrity of Copyright Management Information
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: Jon E. DeGuilio
Referred To: Michael G Gotsch, Sr.

Complaint:

Georgia Used Car Dealership Software Company Sued for “Repeated and Brazen Actions”

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The Defendant in this lawsuit, a used car dealership management software company from Georgia, is accused of “repeated and brazen actions…designed to deceive and sow confusion in the marketplace.” Among the alleged actions of Defendant are illegitimate procurement of Plaintiff’s proprietary Run Lists (i.e. “lists containing information regarding automobile auctions”), use of a “bastardized” version of Plaintiff’s logo, and falsely claiming affiliation with Plaintiff.

The Defendant is also accused of inappropriately using Plaintiff’s AUTONIQ trademark in keyword advertising. The Defendant further used the AUTONIQ trademark in a deceptive email campaign which caused Plaintiff to receive inquiries from confused consumers.

Is it just me, or does the “bastardized” logo (see Complaint paragraph 23) actually look more like a goose rather than a “lower in quality” version of the Plaintiff’s eagle?

I’ll reserve judgment until the Answer is filed, as complaints can’t be relied on for the entire story, but this paints the picture of a Defendant who is willing to flout trademark law for a perceived competitive advantage.

Stay tuned for updates.

Adesa, Inc. and Autoniq, LLC v. Laser Appraiser, LLC

Court Case Number: 1:20-cv-02433-RLY-MJD
File Date: September 21, 2020
Plaintiff: Adesa, Inc., Autoniq, LLC
Plaintiff Counsel: Louis T. Perry of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
Defendant: Laser Appraiser, LLC
Cause: Federal Trademark Infringement, Federal Unfair Competition, Federal False Designation of Origin, Federal False Advertising, Common Law Unfair Competition, Indiana Crime Victim’s Relief Act, Conversion
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Richard L. Young
Referred To: Mark J. Dinsmore

Complaint:

Website development business sues canine trainer for copyright, trademark infringement

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We’re back! Due to the coronavirus, trademark and copyright filings have been fairly nonexistent for the last six months. But things are picking up again and the Indiana Intellectual Property Blog is back in action to monitor and review intellectual property filings in Indiana.

This case involves a dispute between co-owners of an online instruction course about canine behavior modification. The defendant, a well-known canine trainer, appears to be caught with the plaintiffs in a dispute over her percentage of profit for her contributions to the plaintiff’s series of online instruction courses and canine behavior modification manuals.

It’s always unfortunate when a closely-held business results in a legal controversy between co-owners. The copyright and trademark claims in this case seem to just be leverage for the plaintiffs toward getting their intended result rather than anything particularly interesting for intellectual property practitioners.

Stay tuned for updates.

Content & Commerce, Inc., Kevin DeTrude v. Donna Chandler, Show Colors, Inc., My K9 Behaves, LLC

Court Case Number: 1:20-cv-02488-JMS-DLP
File Date: September 25, 2020
Plaintiff: Content & Commerce, Inc., Kevin DeTrude
Plaintiff Counsel: B.J. Brinkerhoff, Hannah Kaufman Joseph of Jeselksis Brinherhoff and Joseph, LLC
Defendant: Donna Chandler, Show Colors, Inc.
Cause: Declaratory Judgement of Copyright Ownership, Copyright Infringement, Declaratory Relief as to Trademark Ownership, Trademark Infringement, Derivative Claim For Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Derivative Claim of Waste, Self-Dealing, Mismanagement and Misappropriation of Corporate Assets and Usurpation of Corporate Opportunities, Derivative Claim for Theft and Conversion, Direct Claim for Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Direct Claim of Waste, Self-Dealing, Mismanagement and Misappropriation of Corporate Assets and Usurpation of Corporate Opportunities, Direct Claim for Theft and Conversion, Breach of Contract
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: Jane E. Magnus-Stinson
Referred To: Doris L. Pryor

Complaint:

Copyright Lawsuit filed over Photograph of a Leaf in Water

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The Defendant in this copyright infringement lawsuit is alleged to have used Plaintiff’s photograph of “a leaf in water” without authorization. The Plaintiff is a German professional photographer and the Defendant is a corporation based in Elkhart, Indiana.

Stay tuned for updates.

Steeger v. Good Living Enterprises Inc.

Court Case Number: 3:19-cv-00877-PPS-MGG
File Date: October 5, 2019
Plaintiff: Paul Steiger
Plaintiff Counsel: Richard P. Liebowitz of Liebowitz Law Firm, PLLC
Defendant: Good Living Enterprises Inc.
Cause: Copyright Infringement
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: Philip P. Simon
Referred To: Michael G. Gotsch, Sr.

Complaint: