Justia Trademark Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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The case revolves around a dispute between Jalmar Araujo and Framboise Holdings Inc. over the registration of the standard character mark #TODECACHO. Araujo filed a U.S. Trademark Application to register #TODECACHO for hair combs. Framboise opposed the registration, claiming that it would likely cause confusion with its #TODECACHO design mark, which it had been using in connection with various hair products since March 24, 2017. Framboise also had a pending trademark application for the same mark.The United States Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the Board) granted Framboise an extension to submit its case in chief. Araujo opposed this extension and the late submission of a declaration by Adrian Extrakt, Director of Framboise. However, the Board granted the extension, finding that the delay was minimal and that Framboise had met the applicable good cause standard. The Board then relied on the Extrakt declaration to support Framboise's claim of prior use of the #TODECACHO design mark.The Board found that Framboise had met its burden to establish prior use by a preponderance of the evidence. It found that the Extrakt declaration alone was sufficient to prove prior use because it was clear, convincing, and uncontradicted. Having found an earlier priority date for Framboise, the Board found a likelihood of confusion between the two marks, sustained the opposition, and refused registration of Araujo’s mark.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Board's decision. The court found that the Board did not abuse its discretion in granting the extension and that the Board's finding that Framboise established prior use of the #TODECACHO design mark was supported by substantial evidence. View "ARAUJO v. FRAMBOISE HOLDINGS INC. " on Justia Law

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The case involves a long-standing trademark dispute between two charities, Kars 4 Kids, Inc. and America Can! Cars for Kids. Both organizations sell donated vehicles to fund children's education programs. In 2003, Texas-based America Can discovered a Kars 4 Kids advertisement in the Dallas Morning News and sent Kars 4 Kids a cease and desist letter, asserting America Can’s rights to the “Cars for Kids” mark in Texas. Kars 4 Kids, based in New Jersey, did not respond to the letter and continued to advertise in Texas.The case was first brought to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey in 2014, where both parties alleged federal and state trademark infringement, unfair competition, and trademark dilution claims. A jury found that Kars 4 Kids infringed on America Can’s unregistered mark in Texas. The District Court awarded monetary and injunctive relief. However, the court's decision was appealed, and the case was remanded for the District Court to reexamine its conclusion that the doctrine of laches did not bar America Can’s claims.On remand, the District Court again concluded that laches did not bar relief. The court found that Kars 4 Kids’ advertising in Texas was not open and notorious enough to prompt America Can to act more quickly to protect its mark. The court also found that Kars 4 Kids was not prejudiced by America Can’s delay because Kars 4 Kids had assumed the risk of its advertising campaigns after receiving the 2003 cease and desist letter.The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit disagreed with the District Court's findings. The appellate court held that the District Court abused its discretion by not properly applying the presumption in favor of laches. The court found that America Can failed to establish that its delay in bringing suit was excusable and that Kars 4 Kids was not prejudiced as a result of that delay. Therefore, the court vacated the District Court's judgment granting monetary and injunctive relief and remanded with instructions to dismiss America Can’s claims with prejudice based on laches. The court also dismissed as moot America Can’s cross-appeal. View "Kars 4 Kids Inc v. America Can Cars For Kids" on Justia Law

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This case arises from a trademark infringement dispute under the Lanham Act between Rolex Watch USA, Incorporated (Rolex) and Beckertime, L.L.C.; Matthew Becker (Beckertime). Rolex is a luxury watch seller with legally protectable interest in numerous trademarks. Beckertime sells primarily decades-old preowned watches containing Rolex branded parts, including watches identified as “Genuine Rolex,” but contain both Rolex and non-Rolex parts. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed in part, modified in part, and remanded in part the decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.The district court found that Beckertime infringed Rolex’s trademark but refused to disgorge Beckertime of its profits, applying the laches defense. Rolex appealed, seeking a modification to the injunction, treble profits, and attorneys’ fees, while Beckertime sought the application of an alternative test to determine infringement.The Appellate Court upheld the district court's ruling that Beckertime infringed Rolex’s trademark, finding no clear error in the determination. The court affirmed the district court's decision to apply the laches defense, preventing the disgorgement of Beckertime's profits. The court found that Rolex had failed to offer a valid justification for its delay in filing suit and that Beckertime was prejudiced by this delay.Regarding remedies, the Appellate Court found that Rolex was not entitled to treble profits or attorneys’ fees. The court pointed out that Rolex had not moved for attorneys’ fees within the required time period under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(2), thereby waiving its right to such fees. Furthermore, the district court found no evidence of deliberate counterfeiting by Beckertime to warrant the imposition of treble profits.The court also addressed the scope of the injunction issued by the district court. It modified the injunction to prohibit the sale of Rolex watches with non-genuine bezels, but upheld the exclusion of all non-genuine dials from the injunction. The court also agreed with Rolex that the typographical errors in one section of the injunction rendered it vague and unqualified, and remanded the case to the district court for clarification. View "Rolex Watch v. Beckertime" on Justia Law

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In a trademark dispute between two companies that used the word "Punchbowl" in their marks, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's summary judgement in favor of AJ Press, LLC. The court held that AJ Press, LLC's use of the Punchbowl mark was not outside the scope of the Lanham Act under the "Rogers test". The Rogers test, which governs disputes over trademarks that are used in expressive works protected by the First Amendment, does not apply when the accused infringer uses a trademark to designate the source of its own goods. The court found that AJ Press, LLC was using the Punchbowl mark to identify and distinguish its news products. The court reversed the district court's judgement and remanded for further proceedings, instructing the district court to proceed to a likelihood-of-confusion analysis under the Lanham Act. View "Punchbowl, Inc. v. AJ Press, LLC" on Justia Law

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Janssen spent 10 years and over half a billion dollars developing an injectable version of the cancer drug trabectedin and patented some of the manufacturing processes. The data, specifications, and manufacturing methods were kept confidential as trade secrets. In 2015, the FDA approved the drug, Yondelis, for use in certain cancer patients. Two years later, two competitors—a Chinese corporation, and its U.S. subsidiary, eVenus—sought FDA approval to sell a generic version of Yondelis. Janssen sued for patent infringement. During discovery, Janssen obtained documents that indicated the defendants misappropriated trade secrets. Janssen filed another lawsuit under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, 18 U.S.C. 1836 (DTSA), became convinced that the defendants had spoliated evidence, and filed an ex parte application, asking that U.S. Marshals seize eVenus’s network servers and stored data, and certain laptops and cell phones.The district court denied the application, concluding that Janssen had not shown that eVenus was in actual possession of the property or that eVenus’s property was at the location of the proposed seizure. It also found an insufficient showing of immediate and irreparable harm or immediate concern for spoliation and that the seizure would encompass company information not limited to the matters at issue. The Third Circuit dismissed an appeal for lack of jurisdiction. A DTSA seizure order is directed to law enforcement—not a party against whom the order could be enforced by threat of contempt–so the order did not effectively deny an injunction. View "Janssen Products LP v. Evenus Pharmaceuticals Laboratories Inc" on Justia Law

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Seven years ago, A.D. was hired to create a PVT (“pressure volume temperature”) simulation software program. Sah was hired by A.D. to develop a PVT software program in exchange for a stake in one of A.D.’s companies, IPSS. Eight months later, a product called InPVT hit the market. Plaintiff Calsep started looking into InPVT. In Calsep’s assessment, A.D. didn’t have the technical skills or resources to develop a PVT product. Calsep filed another motion to compel, alleging that A.D. still hadn’t adequately disclosed his source code control system. Although A.D. had “produced [a] purported source code system” in April and July, Calsep claimed that these productions were “undoubtedly incomplete” and “had been manipulated.” Believing the deletions to be intentional, Calsep filed a motion for sanctions. Afterward, A.D. filed a motion for reconsideration based on newly discovered forensic images that “vindicated” him. The magistrate judge recommended denying the motion, and the district court agreed, denying the motion for reconsideration of the sanctions order. A.D. appealed.   The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision on A.D.'s motion for reconsideration. The court explained that A.D. cannot offer any reason—other than mere forgetfulness—why he couldn’t acquire the images sooner. Further, A.D. hasn’t shown that he acted with diligence during the case to locate these images. Moreover, the court explained that although A.D. argues that the images change the game, Calsep’s expert insists that too much data is still missing from the source code control system, rendering a proper review impossible. The court noted that there was no reason to question the district court’s judgment crediting Calsep’s expert testimony. View "Calsep v. Dabral" on Justia Law

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Impossible X, now a Texas LLC, is a one-person company run by Joel Runyon, a self-described “digital nomad” who for two years operated his business from San Diego. Impossible X sells apparel, nutritional supplements, diet guides, and a consulting service through its website and various social media channels. Impossible Foods sued Impossible X in federal court in California, seeking a declaration that Impossible Foods’ use of the IMPOSSIBLE mark did not infringe on Impossible X’s trademark rights. The district court dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction.   The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal. The panel held that Impossible X was subject to specific personal jurisdiction in California because it previously operated out of California and built its brand and trademarks there, and its activities in California were sufficiently affiliated with the underlying trademark dispute to satisfy the requirements of due process. First, Impossible X purposefully directed its activities toward California and availed itself of the privileges of conducting activities there by building its brand and working to establish trademark rights there. Second, Impossible Foods’ declaratory judgment action arose out of or related to Impossible X’s conduct in California. The panel did not confine its analysis to Impossible X’s trademark enforcement activities, but rather concluded that, to the extent the Federal Circuit follows such an approach for patent declaratory judgments, that approach is not justified in the trademark context. Third, the panel concluded that there was nothing unreasonable about requiring Impossible X to defend a lawsuit based on its trademark building activities in the state that was its headquarters and Runyon’s home base. View "IMPOSSIBLE FOODS INC. V. IMPOSSIBLE X LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff alleged that Valeant fraudulently obtained two sets of patents related to a drug and asserted these patents to stifle competition from generic drugmakers. Plaintiff further alleged that Defendants defrauded the federal government by charging an artificially inflated price for the drug while falsely certifying that its price was fair and reasonable. Dismissing Plaintiff’s action under the False Claims Act’s public disclosure bar, the district court concluded that his allegations had already been publicly disclosed, including in inter partes patent review (“IPR”) before the Patent and Trademark Office.   The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal. The panel held that an IPR proceeding in which the Patent and Trademark Office invalidated Valeant’s “‘688” patent was not a channel (i) disclosure because the government was not a party to that proceeding, and it was not a channel (ii) disclosure because its primary function was not investigative. The panel held that, under United States ex rel. Silbersher v. Allergan, 46 F.4th 991 (9th Cir. 2022), the patent prosecution histories of Valeant’s patents were qualifying public disclosures under channel (ii). The panel assumed without deciding that a Law360 article and two published medical studies were channel (iii) disclosures. The panel held that the “substantially the same” prong of the public disclosure bar applies when the publicly disclosed facts are substantially similar to the relator’s allegations or transactions. None of the qualifying public disclosures made a direct claim that Valeant committed fraud, nor did they disclose a combination of facts sufficient to permit a reasonable inference of fraud. View "ZACHARY SILBERSHER, ET AL V. VALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS INT'L, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Herbal Brands, Inc., which has its principal place of business in Arizona, brought suit in Arizona against New York residents that sell products via Amazon storefronts. Herbal Brands alleged that Defendants’ unauthorized sale of Herbal Brands products on Amazon to Arizona residents and others violated the Lanham Act and state law. The district court dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction over Defendants.   The Ninth Circuit reversed. The panel held that if a defendant, in its regular course of business, sells a physical product via an interactive website and causes that product to be delivered to the forum, then the defendant has purposefully directed its conduct at the forum such that the exercise of personal jurisdiction may be appropriate. The panel applied the Arizona long-arm statute, which provides for personal jurisdiction co-extensive with the limits of federal due process. Due process requires that a nonresident defendant must have “certain minimum contacts” with the forum such that the exercise of personal jurisdiction does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.   The panel held that Herbal Brands met its initial burden of showing that Defendants purposefully directed their activities at the forum because, under the Calder effects test, Defendants’ sale of products to Arizona residents was an intentional act, and Herbal Brands’ cease-and-desist letters informed defendants that their actions were causing harm in Arizona. The court held that Defendants had sufficient minimum contacts with Arizona, Herbal Brands’ harm arose out of those contacts, and the exercise of personal jurisdiction would be reasonable in the circumstances. View "HERBAL BRANDS, INC. V. PHOTOPLAZA, INC., ET AL" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant M Welles and Associates, Inc. (“Welles”) appealed a district court's decision concluding that Defendant-Appellee Edwell, Inc. was not liable for trademark infringement, thereby granting granted final judgment for Edwell. "The marks at issue are undoubtedly similar:" Welles used the mark "EDWEL," whereas Edwell uses the mark "EDWELL." Similarity notwithstanding, the magistrate judge found that consumers were unlikely to be confused by the marks because Edwell never intended to copy Welles’s mark, the parties operated in different markets, consumers were likely to exercise a high degree of care in selecting the parties’ services, and there was almost no evidence of actual confusion. On appeal, Welles argued the magistrate judge applied an erroneous legal standard in analyzing likelihood of confusion, urged the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to adopt a presumption of confusion for cases like this one, and contended that the magistrate judge clearly erred in finding no likelihood of confusion. The Tenth Circuit rejected each of Welles’s arguments and affirmed final judgment for Edwell. View "M Welles & Associates v. Edwell" on Justia Law