The plaintiff in this copyright infringement lawsuit is a professional photographer from Nashville, Tennessee. In March 2019, the plaintiff took a photograph of Ray Luzier, drummer for the band Korn. The photograph was immediately registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.
The Defendant, which sells acoustical products from Indianapolis, Indiana, allegedly used the plaintiff’s photograph on its website without authorization, on a page about “famous users” of the Defendant’s products. The photograph was also allegedly posted on the Defendant’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Stay tuned for updates.
Berman v. Auralex Acoustics, Inc.
Case Number: 1:21-cv-02090-JMS-TAB File Date: Thursday, July 22, 2021 Plaintiff: Sayre Berman Plaintiff Counsel: Craig B. Sanders, Esq. of Barshay Sanders, PLLC Defendant: Auralex Acoustics, Inc. Cause: Direct Copyright Infringement, Falsification, Removal and Alteration of Copyright Management Information Court: Southern District of Indiana Judge: Jane Magnus-Stinson Referred To: Tim A. Baker
The parties to this copyright lawsuit have a long personal history.
The Plaintiff, Fitzgerald, was the executor of the estate of Frithjof Schuon (“Schuon”), a Swiss metaphysician and author, who died in Bloomington, Indiana in May 1998.
The Defendant, Murray, was a close friend of Schuon and his wife until 1992. From 1992-1995, Murray allegedly made aggressive communications, including threatening letters, to Schuon. Murray repeatedly violated a Protective Order, leading to her incarceration. Murray then filed four lawsuits against the Schuons, two of which were dismissed and two which were settled via a Settlement Agreement that included a confidentiality provision.
After Schuon died in 1998, his wife inherited his right of publicity and copyrights. Those rights were subsequently assigned to Plaintiff World Wisdom, Inc. (“World Wisdom”) in 2003. Mrs. Schuon’s rights under the Settlement Agreement were assigned to Fitzgerald and World Wisdom in 2021. World Wisdom also was assigned rights in Mrs. Schuon’s own right of publicity and copyrights.
In April 2018, Murray published a website that contained many criticisms of Schuon. The website allegedly infringes some of Mrs. Schuon’s copyrighted works and violates the confidentiality provision of the earlier Settlement Agreement. Further, in 2021, Murray published a book, Third Wife of the Muslim Shaykh Frithjof Schuon, that allegedly infringes numerous copyrighted works of Mrs. Schuon. Murray’s publisher, Defendant Beacon Books and Media, discontinued print publication of the book in March 2021 but electronic versions remain available. The Defendants have apparently intimidated that further print versions of the book are forthcoming.
In addition to copyright and breach of contract claims, the Complaint (below) also includes a claim for a RICO violation based on alleged racketeering activity by the Defendants.
Given the long history between the parties and the seemingly contrary position of the Defendants, the Answer should be an interesting read. Stay tuned for updates.
Fitzgerald et al. v. Murray et al.
Case Number: 1:21-cv-01822-TWP-TAB File Date: Friday, June 18, 2021 Plaintiff: Michael Fitzgerald, World Wisdom, Inc. Plaintiff Counsel: Louis T. Perry, Jason M. Rauch, Elizabeth A. Charles of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP Defendant: Maude Murray, Beacon Books and Media, LTD Cause: Civil RICO, Copyright Infringement, Right of Publicity, Breach of Contract, Intentional Interference with Contractual Relations Court: Southern District of Indiana Judge: Tanya Walton Pratt Referred To: Tim A. Baker
Noble Roman’s is becoming a regular on this blog. It begs the question, why do they have so many intellectual property problems? Rather than dumping piles of money into back-end enforcement, perhaps they should spend more time on front-end due diligence and avoid many of these problems altogether. Given that most/all of the lawsuits involve ex-franchisees, perhaps Noble Roman’s should re-examine their franchise agreement or franchisee selection process. At least this lawsuit leaves out the ridiculous abandoned theft and conversion claims from their previous complaints.
As with most of their previous lawsuits, Noble Roman’s is suing a prior franchisee for breach of their franchise agreement. Here, the Defendants, with gas station locations in Florida and Georgia, have allegedly not paid the required royalty, underreported sales figures, failed to make available all Noble Roman’s menu items, failed to maintain required business hours, and sold non-Noble Roman’s food offerings.
The Complaint was originally filed in Marion County Superior Circuit Court for Marion County, Indiana but Defendants’ counsel has filed a Notice of Removal to the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Defendants’ counsel is Donald E. Pinaud, Jr. of Jacksonville, Florida.
Stay tuned for updates.
Noble’s Roman’s, Inc. v. AMI Stores Management, Inc. et al.
Case Number: 1:21-cv-01539-RLY-TAB File Date: Sunday, June 6, 2021 Plaintiff: Noble Roman’s, Inc. Plaintiff Counsel: Jaime L. Meyer, Jeffrey D. Roberts of Hollingsworth Roberts Means LLC Defendant: AMI Stores Management, Inc., AMI 57 LLC d/b/a AMI 70 Food Mart, AMI 63 LLC d/b/a AMI 63 Food Mart Cause: Breach of Franchise Agreement, Trademark Infringement Court: Southern District of Indiana Judge: Richard L. Young Referred To: Tim A. Baker
Delta Faucet Company is going after Russian counterfeit faucet sellers in the Southern District of Indiana. In a lengthy and well-drafted Complaint (below), the Plaintiff details how a company’s trademarks are impacted by negative online marketplace reviews and unauthorized sellers. The lawsuit potentially exposes a gray market existing within Amazon’s “Fulfillment by Amazon” services that allows for counterfeit sales, leading to invalid product warranties, disgruntled consumers, and a damaged brand.
This lawsuit, along with Delta’s upgraded authorized seller policies (described in the Complaint), could serve as a good model for other companies dealing with online counterfeits. Although I predict the individual counterfeiters will simply disappear to continue on behind other aliases, Delta is likely more interested in getting an injunction to prevent further Amazon sales, setting precedent against counterfeiters and possibly allowing them to address the numerous unearned negative product reviews.
Stay tuned for updates.
Delta Faucet Company v. Iakovlev et al.
Court Case Number: 1:21-cv-00733-JRS-TAB File Date: March 25, 2021 Plaintiff: Delta Faucet Company Plaintiff Counsel: Louis T. Perry of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP Defendant: Dmitrii Iakovlev, John Does 1-10 Cause: Federal Trademark Infringement, Federal Unfair Competition, Common Law Trademark Infringement, Common Law Unfair Competition, Indiana Crime Victim’s Relief Act, Deception Court: Southern District of Indiana Judge: James R. Sweeney II Referred To: Tim A. Baker
The Plaintiff in this trademark lawsuit, Vroom, is an online nationwide used car retailer based in New York, New York. own 8 U.S. trademark registrations for VROOM and the Vroom Logo, using the marks since at least 2014. The Plaintiff’s domain name is http://www.vroom.com.
The Defendants operate Vrooomsace, a used car retailer located in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Defendants’ use the domain name vrooomcars.com.
Asserting a likelihood of confusion, Plaintiff’s counsel first attempted to contact the Defendants on December 30, 2020, but apparently has received the runaround ever since, never receiving a substantive response from Defendants.
Their patience apparently has run out, resulting in this lawsuit. We’ll see whether Plaintiff finally gets a response. Unfortunately, often it takes a filed complaint for the opposing party to take a matter seriously. If not, this lawsuit could wind up with a default judgment.
Stay tuned for updates.
Vroom, Inc. v. Midwest Motors LLC et al.
Court Case Number: 1:21-cv-00715-TWP-TAB File Date: March 24, 2021 Plaintiff: Vroom, Inc. Plaintiff Counsel: David A.W. Wong, Caitlin R. Byczki, Kathleen S. Fennessy of Barnes & Thornburg LLP Defendant: Midwest Motors LLC dba Vrooomsace Car Selection, Khaled Alragwi Cause: Federal Trademark Infringement, Federal Unfair Competition, False Designation of Origin, Common Law Unfair Competition, Common Law Trademark Infringement, Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act Court: Southern District of Indiana Judge: Tanya Walton Pratt Referred To: Tim A. Baker