Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Trademark
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SM Kids filed suit against Google and related entities, seeking to enforce a 2008 agreement settling a trademark dispute over the Googles trademark. The agreement prohibited Google from intentionally making material modifications to its then-current offering of products and services in a manner that is likely to create confusion in connection with Googles. The district court concluded that the trademark assignment was invalid, and dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The Second Circuit vacated the district court's judgment and held that the validity of the trademark was not a jurisdictional matter related to Article III standing but was instead a merits question properly addressed on a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a motion for summary judgment, or at trial. In this case, the district court erroneously resolved Google's motion as a fact-based motion under Rule 12(b)(1) and considered evidence beyond the complaint, as well as placed on SM Kids the burden of proving subject-matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "SM Kids, LLC v. Google LLC" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's action seeking a declaratory judgment adjudicating the validity of defendants' trademark registrations relating to the "SULKA" mark. The court held that, before a court may entertain an action for declaratory relief in the context of trademarks, the plaintiff must allege that he has taken some action showing that he has both the "definite intent and apparent ability to commence use of the marks on the product." In this case, the court held that defendant's allegations are too vague to support the exercise of federal jurisdiction. The court explained that the only allegation that does relate to the U.S. market is plaintiff's application to register the mark in the United States. However, while his allegation is certainly relevant to the matter of intent, it has little bearing on plaintiff's ability to transition his business to the United States and there were significant reasons for the district court to be skeptical that he was, in fact, prepared to enter the U.S. market. View "Saleh v. Sulka Trading Ltd." on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from the parties' dispute over plaintiffs' "Velocity" trademark for clothing and activewear. The Second Circuit held that the district court did not err by determining that defendants' infringement was willful and by awarding plaintiffs the gross profits derived by defendants' infringement; the district court did not err by amending the judgment to remove the trebled portion of the profits award; and the court clarified that, under its precedent in George Basch Co. v. Blue Coral, Inc., 968 F.2d 1532 (2d Cir. 1992), a plaintiff prosecuting a trademark infringement claim need not in every case demonstrate actual consumer confusion to be entitled to an award of an infringer's profits. However, the court vacated the district court's award of attorney's fees and prejudgment interest to plaintiffs and its determination that this was an "exceptional" case under the Lanham Act. While this appeal was pending, the court held that the standard for determining an "exceptional" case under the Patent Act applies also to cases brought under the Lanham Act. Therefore, the court remanded for the district court to apply Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., 572 U.S. 545 (2014). View "4 Pillar Dynasty LLC v. New York & Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's confirmation of an arbitration award under 9 U.S.C. 9 for petitioners and other individuals. This case involved a dispute between two groups of the Bobov Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn that agreed to arbitration before a rabbinical tribunal. The tribunal ruled that petitioners owned the "Bobov" trademark, and the district court confirmed the ruling. The court held that district courts should "look through" a 9 U.S.C. 4 petition to the underlying controversy to determine whether subject matter jurisdiction exists to confirm the arbitration award pursuant to 9 U.S.C. 9. The court held that the district court properly looked through the arbitration petition here to the underlying controversy to determine that it had subject matter jurisdiction. In this case, the district court properly turned aside respondent's non-jurisdictional arguments, found the petition "effectively" unopposed and that no issue of material fact precluded confirmation, and did not err in confirming the award. View "Landau v. Rheinold" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment granting attorneys' fees and costs to defendants under section 505 of the Copyright Act and section 35(a) of the Lanham Act. These provisions authorized the district court to award fees to the prevailing party in a lawsuit. The court held that defendants met the definition of "prevailing party" under both fee-shifting provisions. Although defendants did not obtain a dismissal on the the Copyright and Lanham Acts claims, defendants have fulfilled their primary objective by obtaining dismissal of the complaint on collateral estoppel grounds. View "Manhattan Review, LLC v. Yun" on Justia Law

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Marcel filed suit against Lucky Brand under the Lanham Act for infringing on Marcel's "Get Lucky" trademark through its use of "Lucky" on its merchandise. Marcel also alleged that Lucky Brand did so in violation of an injunction entered in an earlier action between the parties. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that Marcel released its claims through a 2003 settlement agreement that resolved an earlier substantially similar litigation between the parties.  The Second Circuit vacated the judgment, holding that res judicata precluded Lucky Brand from raising its release defense in this case. The court held that under certain conditions parties may be barred by claim preclusion from litigating defenses that they could have asserted in an earlier action, and that the conditions here warranted application of that defense preclusion principle. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Marcel Fashions Group, Inc. v. Lucky Brand Dungarees, Inc." on Justia Law

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OBC appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Excelled in a trademark dispute over use of the brand-name ROGUE on t-shirts. The Second Circuit held that Excelled failed to show entitlement to summary judgment dismissing OBC's trademark infringement counterclaims. In this case, Excelled failed to meet its burden of proving that OBC's delay in bringing suit was unreasonable and caused prejudice to Excelled. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to Excelled, dismissing OBC's counterclaims, alleging trademark infringement, false designation, and unfair competition. The court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Excelled on its infringement claims and the district court's denial of OBC's motion for summary judgment dismissing these claims. The court also reversed the award of injunctive relief and damages and fees against OBC. Finally, the court vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to Excelled on OBC's trademark cancellation counterclaim because the district court erroneously relied on determinations of disputed facts about the continuity of Excelled's sales that usurped the province of the jury. View "Excelled Sheepskin & Leather Coat Corp. v. Oregon Brewing" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from the parties' dispute over adjudicating rights associated with The Sloppy Tuna, a restaurant in Montauk, NY. On appeal, Montauk challenged the district court's dismissal of its Lanham Act claims and motion for preliminary injunction under the first-filed rule. Montauk also challenged the district court's order to pay costs, including attorneys' fees, that Associates incurred in responding to a previous action Montauk brought against Associates in Georgia state court that Montauk voluntarily dismissed. The Second Circuit held that, because New York law allowed for derivative representation on the facts presented, the district court correctly rejected Montauk's request to hold Associates in default. Nonetheless, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of the complaint and preliminary injunction motion in favor of a first-filed federal Georgia action because the Georgia suit was transferred to the Eastern District of New York, so the reasoning behind the first-filed ruling no longer applied. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's award of costs under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(d), including attorneys' fees, incurred by Associates in the Georgia state action. View "Montauk U.S.A., LLC v. 148 South Emerson Associates LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961, et seq., challenging the district court's judgment in favor of defendants. In this case, plaintiff alleged that defendants were members of two enterprises that conspired to sue plaintiff for, inter alia, trademark infringement. The Second Circuit held that the alleged litigation activities did not constitute RICO predicate acts. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff leave to amend, plaintiff's motion to disqualify, and defendants' motions for sanctions. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Kim v. Kimm" on Justia Law

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CI owns the registered marks ʺCollective Network,ʺ ʺCollective Video,ʺ and ʺC Collective The Audience Engine,ʺ a stylized mark in which the word ʺCollectiveʺ appears most prominently. CCM operates under the name ʺCollective[i].ʺ This appeal arises from the software companies' dispute over trademarks containing the word "collective." In a series of three orders, the district court granted summary judgment to CCM on virtually all points in dispute and awarded attorneyʹs fees under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1051 et seq. The court reversed or vacated all contested portions of the March Order, August Order, and December Order because: (1) the unregistered mark ʺcollectiveʺ is suggestive, not descriptive; (2) there is a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether CI used the unregistered mark ʺcollectiveʺ in commerce before CCM introduced its allegedly infringing marks; (3) the district court prematurely granted summary judgment as to CIʹs counterclaim for infringement of the registered marks, an action that neither party requested and the district court did not explain; and (4) there is a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether CI abandoned its registered marks ʺCollective Networkʺ and ʺCollective Video.ʺ Accordingly, the court reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Cross Commerce Media, Inc. v. Collective, Inc." on Justia Law