LOS ANGELES — After holding that a product safety company adequately demonstrated the substantive merits of its claims for trademark infringement, violation of California’s unfair competition law (UCL) and other causes of action, a California federal judge on April 30 granted its request for a default judgment against entities and individuals it alleged used its marks on their hoverboard products and awarded it more than $2 million (UL, LLC v. Gangsong Group Corp., et al., No. 17-8166, C.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72782).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In its April 29 orders list, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in a dispute over the genericness of the trademark “universal” when used in a religious context (The Universal Church Inc. v. Calvin Toellner, et al., No. 18-1159, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A travel booking website operator that prevailed in its appeal of a trademark registration denial by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court April 10, arguing that the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred in assessing attorney fees against it in violation of the presumptions of the American Rule and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Booking.com B.V. v. Andrei Iancu, No. 18-1309, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Although vacating a California federal judge’s award of attorney fees incurred in connection with a successful defense of copyright infringement claims, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 23 agreed that related allegations premised on “extraordinarily weak” trademarks qualify as exceptional (Amusement Art LLC v. Life is Beautiful LLC, et al., No. 17-55045, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 11916).
HONOLULU — A Hawaii federal judge on April 24 granted a business liability insurer’s motion for summary judgment in its declaratory judgment lawsuit, finding that it has no duty to defend its bed and breakfast owner insured against an underlying infringement lawsuit brought by a competitor (State Farm Fire and Casualty Company v. Joan Prescott, No. 18-00127, D. Hawaii, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69804).
SANTA ANA, Calif. — A federal judge in California on April 25 entered default judgment in favor of two franchisors on their claims for trademark infringement, false designation of origin, breach of franchise agreement, breach of sublease and unfair competition, but found that they could not prevail on their claims for trademark counterfeiting based on the franchisee’s use of the trademark after the termination of the franchise agreement (Meineke Franchisor SPV LLC, et al. v. Sharif Atta, No. SACV-18-1205-JVS, C.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70085).
ATLANTA — In what it deemed a case of first impression, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 23 found that there is no right to a jury trial under the Seventh Amendment, U.S. Const. amend. VII, where a trademark plaintiff seeks recovery of an infringement defendant’s profits in lieu of actual damages (Hard Candy LLC v. Anastasia Beverly Hills Inc., No. 18-10877, 11th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 11877).
NEW YORK — Appealing a trial court’s finding that it infringed the trademark of Tiffany and Co. by advertising certain rings as “Tiffany,” Costco Wholesale Corp. tells the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in an April 24 brief that it used the term in a generic, non-trademark manner to describe the rings (Tiffany and Company, et al. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., Nos. 17-2798, 19-338 and 19-404, 2nd Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Oregon federal judge’s holding that use of an appellant’s trademark in advertising and brochures does not rise to the level of a use in commerce was erroneous, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 19 (VersaTop Support Systems v. Georgia Expo Inc., No. 18-1208, Fed. Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 11404).
PORTLAND, Maine — Stating that his insurer’s attorney “whines like a harpy,” a pro se defendant filed a brief in Maine federal court April 12, opposing a motion for contempt by his long-term disability (LTD) provider over his relaunch of a website critical of the insurer that purportedly contained information that he was forbidden to post pursuant to a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit alleging defamation and trademark and copyright infringement (Symetra Life Insurance Co. v. Guy Raymond Emerson, No. 2:18-cv-00492, D. Maine).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — At oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court April 15, an attorney for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) told the justices that the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred in declaring the agency’s ban on registrations for “immoral and scandalous” trademarks unconstitutional (Andrei Iancu v. Erik Brunetti, No. 18-302, U.S. Sup.).
RICHMOND, Va. — An insured recently asked the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a lower federal court's finding that its insurer has no duty to defend it against an underlying trademark infringement suit (Synaptek Corporation v. Sentinel Insurance Company, No. 18-968, 4th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of five disparate religious organizations teamed up to file an amicus curiae brief April 5, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider a standard used by the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in finding the “Universal Church” trademark to be generic, arguing that religious trademarks merit the same consideration and protection as any other trademarks and suggesting that issues of religious liberty are implicated in the present case (The Universal Church Inc. v. Calvin Toellner, et al., No. 18-1159, U.S. Sup.).
LOS ANGELES — A California federal judge on April 8 entered a default judgment and granted an injunction in favor of a musician and against a concert promoter on claims for trademark infringement, violation of California’s unfair competition law (UCL) and other causes of action, ordering the promotor to return all domain names and social media accounts using the singer’s marks (James Todd Smith v. Guerilla Union, Inc., et al., No. 18-9902, C.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60309).
CHICAGO — The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals heard oral arguments April 9 from The Gatorade Co. and a sports nutrition consulting firm as to whether the sports drink maker’s use of the term “sports fuel” in its marketing constituted trademark use and whether such use was fair under the Lanham Act (SportFuel Inc. v. PepsiCo Inc., et al., No. 18-3010, 7th Cir.).
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A defendant won dismissal on April 8 of allegations asserted in the District of Kansas that it infringed the trade dress of Jenny Yoo Collection Inc. (JY) with a line of bridesmaid gowns that allow the wearers to change the style of their necklines (Jenny Yoo Collection Inc. v. Essense of Australia Inc., No. 17-2666, D. Kan., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59611).
RICHMOND, Va. — In an April 5 order, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected efforts by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to undo a February divided holding that trademark applications by Booking.com are not generic; the same day it denied en banc rehearing, however, the panel stayed its mandate requiring Booking.com to reimburse the USPTO its attorney fees, pending resolution of Iancu v. NantKwest, Inc., No. 18-801, (U.S. Sup.), by the U.S. Supreme Court (Booking.com v. Andre Iancu, Nos. 17-2458, -2459, 4th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 10191).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — With April 15 oral argument approaching in a dispute over whether the Lanham Act’s ban on the registration of scandalous or immoral trademarks violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) filed its reply brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on April 2, asking the high court to find the provision constitutional and to overturn a ruling by the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that held to the contrary (Andrei Iancu v. Erik Brunetti, No. 18-302, U.S. Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS — A bill of sale executed in regard to the “Camellia Grill” restaurant assigned all “Camellia Grill” trademarks and trade dress to the new owner, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled March 29 (Uptown Grill LLC, et al. v. Camellia Grill Holdings Inc., et al., No. 18-30515, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 9396).
ATLANTA — A panel of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 1 upheld findings by a Florida federal judge that the former European distributor of a cosmetic line is not authorized by the terms of its trademark license agreement to maintain an infringement action in the United States against the Kardashian sisters (Kroma Makeup EU LLC v. Boldface Licensing & Branding Inc., et al., No. 17-4211, 11th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 9458).