Category Archives: IP Litigation

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If Warhol Isn’t Transformative, Who (or What) Is? The Second Circuit Finds Andy Warhol’s Prince Series Not Fair Use

On March 26, 2021, the Second Circuit reversed a 2019 district court ruling and held that Andy Warhol’s “Prince Series” did not qualify as fair use of Lynn Goldsmith’s 1981 photograph of Prince (the “Photograph”).  The Court further concluded that the Prince Series works are substantially similar to the Goldsmith Photograph as a matter of law.… Continue Reading

What’s in a Name: SDNY Grants Preliminary Injunction Enforcing Contractual Bar Against Designer’s Use of Her Own Name

In a fifty-seven-page memorandum opinion and order, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a fashion brand its motion for a preliminary injunction preventing its lead designer from using her given name commercially and on her social media accounts. JLM Couture, Inc. v. Hayley Paige Gutman, 20-CV-10575-LTS-SLC (S.D.N.Y. 2021), … Continue Reading

The Final Revenge of Queen Anne’s Revenge: State’s Use of Photographs Is Not Piracy

On March 23, 2020, in Allen v. Cooper, the Supreme Court held that Allen, who spent over two decades, photographing the shipwreck of Queen Anne’s Revenge, better known as the flagship for the pirate Blackbeard, cannot sue the State of North Carolina (“State”) for copyright infringement of his photographs. The Court’s decision was based on its … Continue Reading

Cert. Roundup:

ABA (as amicus) Asks the Supreme Court to Adopt a Flexible Rule for Recapture of Profits in Trademark Cases Intellectual Property Owners Association (as amicus) Argues That a Willfulness Requirement Is Consistent with the Statute and Principles of Equity The American Bar Association (“ABA”) filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Will Decide When Trademark Infringers May Be Ordered to Forfeit Profits

On Friday, June 28, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide the circumstances necessary to support an award of a trademark infringer’s profits under section 35 of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a). Romag Fasteners Inc. v. Fossil Inc., et al., No. 18-1233. The ruling hopefully will resolve a long-standing circuit split over … Continue Reading

The Skinny on “Thins”

According to the Federal Circuit, the skinny on the term “Thins” is that it may be generic for thinly cut snack crackers. Real Foods Pty Ltd. V. Frito-Lay North America, Inc., (October 4, 2018 Fed. Cir.). In 2012, Real Foods Pty. Ltd. (“Real Foods”) applied to register the trademarks CORN THINS for “crispbread slices predominantly … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Extends Tam 1st Amendment Protections to Advertising

The Ninth Circuit extended the First Amendment protections enunciated by the Supreme Court in Matal v. Tam, 137 S.Ct. 1744 (2017)[1] to advertising in American Freedom Defense Initiative, et al. v. King County (9th Cir. Sept. 27, 2018). Plaintiff American Freedom Defense Initiative is an organization co-founded by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, whose focus … Continue Reading

Discovery Sanctions Affirmed Despite Dwarfing Potential Value of Entire Case

In Klipsch v. ePRO, the Second Circuit affirmed discovery sanctions commensurate with the costs incurred by the moving party in addressing the sanctionable conduct ($2.68 million), as well as security for the sanctions, potential damages and potential attorneys’ fees; and held that such sanctions are not unduly punitive even if the likely ultimate value of … Continue Reading

Tam Extended: Prohibition of “Immoral and Scandalous” Trademarks Unconstitutional

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently extended First Amendment protections for trademark applications in In re Brunetti, No. 15-1109 (Fed. Cir. December 15, 2017), ruling that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act’s prohibition against registration of “immoral and scandalous” matter violated free speech protections. This ruling comes as no surprise, in light … Continue Reading

B&B Hardware Precludes Defense To Likelihood Of Confusion In District Court

In 2015, the Supreme Court, in its decision in B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc. (“B&B”), held that sometimes issue preclusion should apply to prior Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) decisions. 135 S. Ct. 1293 (2015). Under this directive, if the TTAB decides the issue of “likelihood of confusion” when making a determination … Continue Reading

The Yellow Pages Live On

Calling the district court’s action an “abuse of discretion,” the 11th Circuit reversed a decision that cut by more than 90 percent a successful copyright infringement plaintiff’s request for attorney’s fees and costs. Yellow Pages Photos, Inc. v. Ziplocal, L.P., No. 16-11868 (January 24, 2017). This is the latest decision issued in the long-running dispute … Continue Reading

Trade Dress Claim Based on Shoe’s Rectangular Metal Toe Plate Booted by SDNY

The Southern District of New York recently booted shoe manufacturer LVL XIII Brands, Inc.’s trade dress infringement suit against Louis Vuitton Malletier S.A. in LVL XIII Brands, Inc. v. Louis Vuitton Malletier S.A.. At issue in this lawsuit was Plaintiff LVL XIII’s claim to exclusive trade dress rights in a rectangular metal toe plate on … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Revives Trader Joe’s Federal Trademark Claims Brought In Washington Against “Pirate Joe’s” Operating In Canada

In Trader Joe’s Company v. Michael Norman Hallatt, the Ninth Circuit recently found that Trader Joe’s allegations of infringing conduct occurring within Canada supported a cognizable claim under the Lanham Act. In particular, Trader Joe’s, a well-known American grocery store chain, filed suit in federal court in Washington State in 2013, alleging trademark and unfair … Continue Reading

Nominative Fair Use: The Second Circuit Joins Neither The Third Nor Ninth Circuits In Its Approach

In an important decision delineating the boundaries of fair use of another person’s trademark, the Second Circuit announced a standard by which nominative fair use of a trademark will be evaluated in that Circuit in International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc. v. Security University, LLC. Because the Court ruled that the district court made … Continue Reading

The Hound’s-Tooth Bites Back: The Ghost of Paul “Bear” Bryant

Recently, a District Court judge issued a scathing rebuke to the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama et al. v. Houndstooth Mafia Enterprises LLC, (N.D. Alabama February 23, 2016).  Judge Proctor’s memorandum opinion upbraided the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) for ignoring his earlier-issued order … Continue Reading

In re Tam: Section 2(a) Unconstitutional Under The First Amendment

In a landmark First Amendment decision relating to the Lanham (Trademark) Act, the Federal Circuit, en banc, struck down § 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C.  § 1052(a), the statutory provision barring registration of “disparaging” marks.  By a 9-3 vote, the Court held that § 2(a) violates a trademark applicant’s free speech rights.  In … Continue Reading

It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over: 6th Circuit Confirms That Post-Trial Motions Toll The Deadline To File Attorneys’ Fees Motions And Extends Octane Fitness To Trademark Litigations

In Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. v. Karaoke Kandy Store, et al., No. 14-3117 (6th Cir. April 6, 2015), the Sixth Circuit confirmed that post-trial motions toll the deadline for filing motions for attorneys’ fees under Rule 54.  Moreover, the Court held that the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the phrase “exceptional case,” as that phrase is used … Continue Reading

Fourth Circuit Dispenses Comity and Limits Relief in Paper Towel Dispute

The Fourth Circuit recently ruled on several important issues regarding the scope of relief that may be granted for trademark infringement.   The backdrop for the decision in Georgia Pacific Consumer Products LP v. Von Drehle Corp. was a 2012 jury verdict that a North Carolina company was liable for contributory trademark infringement for designing and … Continue Reading
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