Justia Trademark Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals
Newport News Holdings Corporat v. Virtual City Vision, Incorpora
Plaintiff filed a complaint against defendants, Virtual City Vision, Inc. ("VSV") and Van James Bond Tran ("Tran"), alleging federal, state, and common law claims when defendants' newportnews.com domain name was confusingly similar to plaintiff's Newport News registered trademarks and its newport-news.com domain name. VCV raised numerous issues on appeal: the magistrate judge's failure to recuse; the court's assertion of personal jurisdiction over Tran, the district court's grant of summary judgment to plaintiff on the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act ("ACPA") claim; the district court's denial of VCV's request to file a counterclaim; the district court's award of statutory damages and attorney's fees to plaintiff and sanctions against VCV's counsel; and the district court's finding that VCV was not the prevailing party for purposes of an award of attorneys' fees. The court held that the magistrate judge did not abuse his discretion in finding that the circumstances would not cause a reasonable observer to question his impartiality, the district court found sufficient facts to pierce the corporate veil and exercise jurisdiction over Tran, and the district court's grant of summary judgment on the ACPA claim was proper. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying VCV's motion for leave to file a counterclaim. The court further held that the district court did not clearly err in finding that VCV's infringement was exceptional or abused its discretion in awarding attorneys' fees, that VCV's attempt to profit from plaintiff's mark by creating a website focused on women's fashion was sufficiently egregious to merit the statutory damages award, that the award of sanctions was not an abuse of discretion, and that plaintiff's abandonment claim did not make VCV a prevailing party.