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Laerdal, which manufactures and distributes medical devices, filed a complaint at the International Trade Commission asserting violations of 19 U.S.C. 1337 by infringement of Laerdal’s patents, trademarks, trade dress, and copyrights by importing, selling for importation, or selling within the U.S. certain medical devices. The Commission investigated Laerdal’s trade dress claims, one patent claim, two copyright claims, and one trademark claim, excluding all others. Despite being served with notice, no respondent responded. An ALJ issued the Order to Show Cause. Respondents did not respond. An ALJ issued an initial determination finding all respondents in default. Laerdal modified its requested relief to immediate entry of limited exclusion orders and cease and desist orders. The Commission requested briefing on remedies, the public interest, and bonding. The Commission's final determination granted Laerdal limited exclusion orders against three respondents and a cease and desist order against one, based on patent and trademark claims; it issued no relief on trade dress and copyright claims, finding Laerdal’s allegations inadequate. As to trade dress claims, the Commission found that Laerdal failed to plead sufficiently that it suffered the requisite harm, the specific elements that constitute its trade dresses, and that its trade dresses were not functional; despite approving the ALJ’s initial determination of default and despite requesting supplemental briefing solely related remedy, the Commission issued no relief on those claims. The Federal Circuit vacated. The Commission violated 19 U.S.C. 1337(g)(1) by terminating the investigation and issuing no relief for its trade dress claims against defaulting respondents. View "Laerdal Medical Corp. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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Saint Louis Brewery (SLB), a craft brewery founded in 1989 by Thomas Schlafly and Daniel Kopman, began selling beer with the SCHLAFLY logo in 1991 and asserts that it “has continuously sold beer under its SCHLAFLY trademark” ever since. In 2011, SLB applied for trademark registration for the word mark “SCHLAFLY” for use with various types of beer. The application drew opposition from Phyllis Schlafly, Thomas’s aunt and a well-known conservative activist (now deceased), and Bruce Schlafly (Opposers). The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board denied the opposition. The Federal Circuit affirmed the registration, rejecting an argument that the Board did not recognize that the mark was “primarily merely a surname,” and improperly accepted that the mark has acquired secondary meaning although the applicant did not provide survey evidence. The court also rejected claims of violation of the Opposers’ First Amendment, Fifth Amendment, and Due Process rights and protections. A trademark registration does not constitute a “taking” and the trademark opposition procedure, of which the Opposers have availed themselves, provides an appropriate process of law. View "Schlafly v. Saint Louis Brewery, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit filed an order granting defendants' petition for panel rehearing, withdrawing the panel’s opinion, and ordering the filing of a superseding opinion. The panel also filed a superseding opinion reversing the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants in a trademark infringement suit over the "Honey Badger" catchphrases under the Lanham Act. The panel held that, under the test in Rogers v. Grimaldi, 875 F.2d 994 (2d Cir. 1989), the Lanham Act applies to expressive works only where the public interest in avoiding consumer confusion outweighs the public interest in free expression. In this case, defendants have not used plaintiff's mark in the creation of a song, photograph, video game, or television show, but have largely just pasted plaintiff's mark into their greeting cards. The panel held that a jury could determine that this use of plaintiff's mark was explicitly misleading as to the source or content of the cards. Therefore, the panel reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Gordon v. Drape Creative, Inc." on Justia Law

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Around 1959, the company started doing business as Omaha Steaks. It has multiple trademark registrations that include the words “Omaha Steaks" and spent over $50 million in 2012 and 2013, on domestic advertising of its beef products through national radio, television, and freestanding print campaigns. It has been featured in national newspapers, magazines, television shows, and movies. It promotes its products via catalog and direct mail, a daily blast email, customer calls, and on social media. Omaha Steaks has 75 stores and two airport kiosks and sells via Amazon. In 1920, Greater Omaha Packing Company was formed; it sells boxed beef to wholesalers, such as hotels, restaurants, and food service institutions and has sold beef to Omaha Steaks since 1966. GOP sought to register the mark “GREATER OMAHA PROVIDING THE HIGHEST QUALITY BEEF” with a design for: “meat, including boxed beef primal cuts.” The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board dismissed Omaha Steak’s opposition, finding no likelihood of confusion between the opposed mark and Omaha Steaks’ registered trademarks. The Federal Circuit vacated. The Board’s fact-findings confirm that due to Omaha Steaks’ sales and marketing, the consuming public has been regularly exposed to its marks on a nationwide scale; the Board’s conclusion that Omaha Steaks did not provide any context for its “raw” sales figures and ad expenditures lacks substantial evidence. The Board’s findings regarding third-party use improperly relied on marks found on dissimilar goods not directed to the relevant public. View "Omaha Steaks International, Inc. v. Greater Omaha Packing Co." on Justia Law

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SMRI filed suit alleging that defendants, through their participation in the selling of Rushmore's unlicensed motorcycle rally-related products, had violated several provisions of the Lanham Act and related South Dakota statutes. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court did not err in declining to apply licensee estoppel against defendants; the trial record did not support a finding that SMRI owned the rally or its intellectual property, that SMRI and the Chamber before it have been the substantially exclusive users of the word "Sturgis" in relation to either the rally or rally-related goods and services, or that relevant consumers associate the word "Sturgis" with a single source of goods and services in any context; and thus the court reversed the jury's finding that defendants diluted the "Sturgis" mark and vacated the jury's finding that defendants engaged in cybersquatting. The court also held that defendants should have been granted judgment as a matter of law on the infringement claims relating to SMRI's unregistered marks, "Sturgis Motorcycle Rally" and "Sturgis Rally & Races," because the jury was not presented with sufficient evidence to find that the marks had acquired secondary meaning. Finally, the evidence at trial supported the jury's finding that SMRI's mark "Sturgis Bike Week" was valid; there was sufficient evidence to show that SMRI's "Monahan Composite Mark" was widely used in connection with the rally and that defendants' infringement of the mark was willful and intentional; the differences between the shot glass's design and the Monahan mark were so obvious that the jury did not have any basis in the record for its finding of a counterfeit; SMRI's claims for deceptive practices, false advertising and unfair competition were not time-barred; the district court did not err in granting judgment as a matter of law to JRE; the court vacated the district court's order granting defendants the defenses of laches and acquiescence; and the court reversed and remanded the permanent injunction. View "Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. v. Rushmore Photo & Gifts, Inc." on Justia Law

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The 753 trademark, issued to Converse in 2013, describes the trade-dress configuration of three design elements on the midsole of Converse’s All Star shoes. Converse filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC), alleging violations of 19 U.S.C. 337 by various companies in the importation into the U.S., the sale for importation, and the sale within the U.S. after importation of shoes that infringe its trademark. The ITC found the registered mark invalid and that Converse could not establish the existence of common-law trademark rights, but nonetheless stated that various accused products would have infringed Converse’s mark if valid. The Federal Circuit vacated. The ITC erred in failing to distinguish between alleged infringers who began infringing before Converse obtained its trademark registration and those who began afterward. With respect to the pre-registration period, Converse, as the party asserting trade-dress protection, must establish that its mark had acquired secondary meaning before the first infringing use by each alleged infringer. In addition, the ITC applied the wrong legal standard in its determination of secondary meaning. On remand, the ITC should reassess the accused products to determine whether they are substantially similar to the mark in the infringement analysis. View "Converse, Inc. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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Real Foods sought registration of two marks: “CORN THINS,” for “crispbread slices predominantly of corn, namely popped corn cakes”; and “RICE THINS,” for “crispbread slices primarily made of rice, namely rice cakes.” Frito-Lay opposed the registrations, arguing that the proposed marks should be refused as either generic or descriptive without having acquired distinctiveness. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board refused registration of the applied-for marks, finding the marks “are merely descriptive and have not acquired distinctiveness,” dismissing Frito-Lay’s “genericness claim. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Substantial evidence supports the finding that the proposed marks are highly descriptive. The terms “corn” and “rice,” both of which are grains, describe the primary ingredient in Real Foods’ respective goods; the term thins describes physical characteristics of the corn and rice cakes. Viewing the marks as composites does not create a different impression. Real Foods “has not demonstrated that its applied-for marks have acquired distinctiveness. Real Foods did not demonstrate that its applied-for marks have acquired distinctiveness. The court remanded in part, finding that the Board erred in its analysis of genericness. View "Real Foods Pty Ltd. v. Frito-Lay North America, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court that the exercise of specific personal jurisdiction against a German corporation did not offend the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, holding that on the facts of this case the exercise of jurisdiction would not violate due process. Plaintiff, a Maine corporation, sued Defendant, a German corporation, in federal district court in Maine for trademark infringement. As a basis for personal jurisdiction over Defendant, Plaintiff said that Defendant’s nationwide contacts with the United States supported specific jurisdiction under Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(k)(2). On prima facie review, the district court concluded that it could constitutionally exercise specific personal jurisdiction over Defendant under Rule 4(k)(2). The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff met all three requirements to establish personal jurisdiction. View "Plixer International, Inc. v. Scrutinizer GMBH" on Justia Law

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DACo, a sports specialty shop, sells souvenirs and apparel associated with Detroit professional sports teams. Since at least 2004, DACo has used the DETROIT ATHLETIC CO. mark in connection with its retail services. In 2015, DACo sought to register the standard character mark DETROIT ATHLETIC CO. on the Principal Register for “[o]n-line retail consignment stores featuring sports team related clothing and apparel; [r]etail apparel stores; [r]etail shops featuring sports team related clothing and apparel; [r]etail sports team related clothing and apparel stores.” In response to a non-final refusal, DACo disclaimed ATHLETIC CO. and amended to seek registration on the Supplemental Register. The examining attorney refused registration under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1052(d), finding that DETROIT ATHLETIC CO. is likely to be confused with DETROIT ATHLETIC CLUB, which is on the Principal Register for “[c]lothing, namely athletic uniforms, coats, golf shirts, gym suits, hats, jackets, sweatpants, sweatshirts, polo shirts, and T-shirts,” and is owned by the Detroit Athletic Club, a private social club organized in 1887. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Board balanced the DuPont factors; substantial evidence supports its finding that, “because the marks are similar, the goods and services are related, and the channels of trade and consumers overlap, . . . confusion is likely between Applicant’s mark DETROIT ATHLETIC CO. and the mark DETROIT ATHLETIC CLUB.” View "In re: Detroit Athletic Co." on Justia Law

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Every winter for about 60 years, Tawas, Michigan has been the home of the “Perchville” festival, including a polar bear swim and a fishing contest. The Chamber of Commerce organizes the event and registered the name Perchville as a trademark. While dues-paying members of the Chamber may use the Perchville mark, non-members must pay a ($750) licensing fee to use it. A local company, AuSable, wants to make Perchville-branded tee-shirts, and sued the Chamber to invalidate its mark. The district court declined. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. “Perchville” is a distinctive term eligible for protection under the Lanham Act, which protects “any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof” that a person uses “to identify and distinguish his or her goods” in the marketplace, 15 U.S.C. 1127. “No matter how you slice it, the term ‘Perchville’ is inherently distinctive. The name does not refer to a place. It serves only ‘to identify a particular’ event, namely the annual winter festival in Tawas. … The word almost certainly counts as fanciful, and at the very least is sufficiently suggestive to qualify as an inherently distinctive trademark.” View "AuSable River Trading Post v. Dovetail Solutions, Inc." on Justia Law