Justia Trademark Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Legal Ethics
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In this trademark infringement action, the district court granted Alliance for Good Government summary judgment on its trademark infringement claim against Coalition for Better Government, enjoined Coalition from the use of both its logo and its trade name, and then awarded Alliance attorney's fees incurred in bringing the lawsuit. The Fifth Circuit affirmed in part and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Alliance was entitled to fees. The court remanded for the district court to reassess the amount of fees, because the court has since modified the district court's injunction to permit Coalition to use its trade name. View "Alliance for Good Government v. Coalition for Better Government" on Justia Law

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OMSJ filed suit against defendant alleging, inter alia, trademark infringement in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1051 et seq., and the Texas Business and Commerce Code. Defendant created two websites to deconstruct the OMSJ's alleged misrepresentation of the effects of HIV and AIDS and allegedly false research that the OMSJ promulgated on its “HIV Innocence Group” webpage. The district court dismissed the Lanham Act claim, declined to exercise pendent jurisdiction over the state law claims, and denied defendant’s subsequent request for an award of attorney’s fees stemming from the allegedly frivolous trademark claims. In light of recent Supreme Court precedent, Octane Fitness, LLC v. Icon Health and Fitness, Inc., which expanded the standard under which a lawsuit presents an “exceptional case” meriting the award of attorney fees, the court reversed and remanded for reconsideration. The court merged Octane Fitness’s definition of “exceptional” into its interpretation of section 1117(a) of the Lanham Act and construe its meaning as follows: an exceptional case is one where (1) in considering both governing law and the facts of the case, the case stands out from others with respect to the substantive strength of a party’s litigating position; or (2) the unsuccessful party has litigated the case in an “unreasonable manner.” The district court must address this issue “in the case-by-case exercise of their discretion, considering the totality of the circumstances.” View "Baker v. Deshong" on Justia Law

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This appeal stems from an intellectual property dispute between two religious organizations. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that defendant is infringing its registered service marks in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1114, and Florida law. The district court granted judgment for defendant. In the first appeal, the court reversed in part and remanded for reconsideration of whether the parties' marks are likely to be confused. The court was also critical of disparaging comments that the district judge made about the parties. On remand, the court concluded that the district court misapplied several factors in its analysis of likely confusion, incorrectly assessed the Florida Priory’s defense of prior use, relied on historical testimony that the court previously deemed inadmissible, and misinterpreted the court's instructions about consulting facts outside the record. The court declined to order reassignment after balancing the three factors in United States v. Torkington. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "Sovereign Military Hospitaller v. The Florida Priory of the Knights Hospitallers" on Justia Law

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The parties in these consolidated appeals are involved in a decade-long dispute regarding the TESTMASTERS trademark. The district court granted both parties’ motions for summary judgment, denying nationwide registration to both. Before the court is another appeal from a different district court's order finding one of the parties and his attorney to be in contempt, and ordering the attorney to be briefly jailed. The court vacated the contempt findings as to the Daniel Sheehan, concluding that there was no clear and convincing evidence upon which to find that Sheehan violated the injunction’s requirements. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "Test Masters Educ. Serv., Inc. v. Robin Singh Educ. Serv., Inc." on Justia Law

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This case arose from a trademark infringement suit involving the sale of counterfeit versions of defendant's hoisin sauce. The district court subsequently imposed sanctions in fees and costs pursuant to FRCP 11 against plaintiffs and their attorneys in favor of defendant. The attorneys appealed, contending that the district court erred in its application of Rule 11. Defendant cross-appealed, contending that the district should have awarded substantially more in fees and costs and moved to sanction the attorneys for filing a purportedly frivolous appeal. The court held that the safe harbor requirement under Rule 11 was satisfied in these circumstances; the attorneys have failed to show that the district court abused its discretion in concluding that the action was frivolous; nor have the attorneys shown that the district court abused its discretion in deciding to impose monetary sanctions. The court rejected defendant's arguments on cross appeal and affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Star Mark Mgmt., Inc. v. Koon Chun Hing Kee Soy & Sauce Factory, Ltd." on Justia Law