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Trademark - Trademark Litigation

During a shoe industry trade show, our client Nimco discovered that Spring Footwear was promoting a new line of shoes that incorporated Nimco's proprietary outsole design. The counterfeit outsole was identical to Nimco's outsole in every way, not only encompassing the design elements, but also containing Nimco's logo and its patent numbers. To avoid future displays of the counterfeit outsole, Nimco asked us to immediately file suit against Spring Footwear. As a result of the litigation, Spring Footwear withdrew the counterfeit shoe from the market and commenced settlement discussions. The case has since settled in favorable terms for our client.
Two federal courts recognized the fame of the FIRESTONE mark, given its century-long use, in suits filed by Bridgestone for trademark counterfeiting, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition, and breach of contract against holdover licensees, related entities, and their owner who unlawfully used the FIRESTONE, FIRESTONE COMPLETE AUTO CARE, and BRIDGESTONE marks to offer automotive services in Houston, Texas. Bridgestone, represented by Finnegan, was granted summary judgment in both cases.

In the Southern District of Texas, the court granted summary judgment on all claims against one of the entities and its owner in his individual capacity. In the Middle District of Tennessee, the court granted Bridgestone’s motion for summary judgment on the trademark counterfeiting, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and unfair competition claims. Both courts rejected defendants’ arguments that holdover licensees are exempt from the heightened penalties for counterfeiting, noting the split of authority on the issue. In the Sixth Circuit, a holdover licensee may not be liable for the heightened penalties available for counterfeiting if it continues to use a mark as originally authorized. This represents the minority view and other courts have rejected the holding. The defense thus did not apply in Texas, and the defendants in Tennessee could not rely on this precedent to shield them from liability because one defendant was never a party to any license with Bridgestone and the other was never licensed to use the FIRESTONE COMPLETE AUTO CARE mark as it did. Both courts held that defendants’ willful conduct—using Bridgestone’s exact federally registered FIRESTONE and FIRESTONE COMPLETE AUTO CARE marks—entitles Bridgestone to recover the enhanced remedies (to be determined at trial) available for counterfeiting.
Finnegan has assisted with filing and prosecuting several thousand trademark applications in the United States and abroad for Caterpillar. We obtained a preliminary injunction for Caterpillar against use of the word marks GAI, GAIERBILLART, GAIERPILLAR, GAIERPOLLAR, the yellow and black color combination for footwear and any associated packaging or labels, and/or any other trademarks, trade names, trade dress, logos, or other names or identifiers confusingly similar to the CATERPILLAR or CAT marks and/or Caterpillar’s footwear trade dress.
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a lower court judgment in favor of firm client X/Open Company Limited, a non-profit computer-industry consortium responsible for setting and managing the specifications for UNIX-based products. The decision caps a decade-long dispute which began as an administrative proceeding at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and later escalated into a federal court lawsuit when the plaintiff Wayne Gray alleged violations of federal and state RICO statutes, the Florida Communications Fraud Act, and the Lanham Act. The crux of plaintiff’s claim was that X/Open fraudulently asserted ownership in the UNIX mark against Gray in the earlier administrative action and then “conspired” with co-defendants Novell, Inc. and The SCO Group, Inc. to conceal the true ownership of that mark. The lower court had granted summary judgment in favor of X/Open, finding that various prior agreements and dealings between X/Open and the co-defendants indisputably established that X/Open owned the UNIX mark. The appeals court panel unequivocally affirmed, holding that Gray was simply “mistaken” about the legal effect of each agreement at issue. Because X/Open owned the UNIX mark and had lawfully asserted its rights in that mark against Gray, the Court held that all of Gray’s claims must fail.
Finnegan successfully overturned a ruling against two of Bridgestone’s top-selling tire brands POTENZA and TURANZA. Bridgestone appealed a TTAB decision dismissing its opposition against Federal Corporation’s application to register the mark MILANZA for tires. In that decision, the TTAB refused to find Bridgestone’s POTENZA and TURANZA marks commercially strong because they frequently appear with the BRIDGESTONE house mark. On appeal, the Federal Circuit issued a unanimous precedential decision reversing the TTAB and finding that MILANZA is likely to be confused with POTENZA and TURANZA based on, among other things, the independent strength achieved by the POTENZA and TURANZA marks through massive sales and advertising and the similarities between POTENZA, TURANZA, and MILANZA. The Federal Circuit also held that the simultaneous use of BRIDGESTONE with POTENZA and TURANZA does not denigrate the fame and strength of those product marks.
After purchasing the assets of a bank that was being dissolved by the FDIC, our client commenced the process of re-branding the bank as ONEWEST BANK. Between the time that the new brand had been chosen, announced, and  launched, former employees of the dissolved bank learned of the new brand and announced plans to launch their own mortgage brokerage company named ONEWEST MORTGAGE. To protect the client's new mark and to prevent the former employees from falsely claiming a relationship with the new bank, we filed suit and prepared to file a motion for a temporary restraining order. In response to our quick and forceful action, the defendants agreed to change their name and consented to an entry of a permanent injunction. The case has since settled in favorable terms for our client.
Finnegan represented former Olympic silver medalist Matt Lindland and his Team Quest mixed martial arts (MMA) gyms in defense a claim of trademark infringement asserted by a former colleague and well-known UFC fighter, Dan Henderson, on the basis of Lindland’s use of the name Team Quest for MMA facilities and merchandise. Because of Henderson’s knowledge of Lindland’s long standing use of the name, the court held that any relief sought by Henderson with respect to Lindland’s use of the Team Quest name was barred by laches. In particular, the court rejected Henderson’s assertion of inevitable confusion even though both parties showcase fighters in internationally syndicated events and provide online sales of branded merchandise. On appeal, the 9th Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision. Henderson filed a petition for rehearing en banc, which was been denied.
The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board granted judgment in favor of Italian design house Emilio Pucci (subsidiary of luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy), finding that the defendant’s mark EMIDIO TUCCI for apparel and accessories is confusingly similar to the client’s long-used EMILIO PUCCI mark for fashion products. In response to submissions showing extensive use of EMILIO PUCCI since the early 1950s on a wide variety of clothing and other goods, the Board found that the mark had developed “substantial renown” in the field of apparel and accessories and become a “well-established brand.” Pucci defeated defendant’s argument that the expensive nature of Pucci’s products limited its renown to a small group of sophisticated purchasers (mostly women) by submitting extensive evidence showing broad public recognition of the mark.
Shortly after Subaru launched its newest vehicle named the “Crosstrek,” Trek Bicycle filed suit for trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and unfair competition of its “Trek” and numerous “Trek-formative” trademarks. Trek and Subaru had been long-standing partners in a professional mountain bike team. As such, in addition to its assertions of trademark infringement and dilution, Trek also alleged that Subaru’s “Crosstrek” name breached the existing sponsorship agreement. Trek moved for a preliminary injunction. Faced with the possibility of rebranding its new vehicle, Subaru turned to Finnegan. Finnegan put together a team that could handle expedited discovery (which was virtually case-comprehensive and involved extensive ESI document discovery and many fact and Rule 30(b)(6) depositions), working with experts to conduct likelihood of confusion and dilution surveys, calculate harm and damages, and study linguistic usage of the word “trek,” as well as obtaining and managing documents produced from dozens of third-party subpoenas. Finnegan uncovered facts leading to a counterclaim for genericness, abandonment, and fraud, as well important facts undermining the alleged strength of the Trek brand. Prior to the preliminary injunction hearing date, the case was favourably settled with Subaru’s ownership, use, and registration of its “Crosstrek” trademark unfettered and unchanged.
Following a two-week trial, a jury in the Northern District of California returned a unanimous defense verdict in favor of Finnegan clients ABBYY USA Software House, Inc. (of Milpitas, California), ABBYY Software, Ltd. (of Nicosia, Cyprus), ABBYY Production LLC (of Moscow, Russia), and Lexmark International, Inc. (of Lexington, Kentucky). Nuance Communications, Inc., had accused the ABBYY companies of infringing two patents directed to optical character recognition (OCR) software and a third patent directed to distributed document processing over a computer network. Nuance also sued Lexmark, a former Nuance customer, after it stopped using Nuance products and began using ABBYY’s OCR software. In addition, Nuance alleged that ABBYY infringed its trade dress for software packaging used for retail and internet sales. Prior to trial, Nuance sought more than $260 million in damages from the defendants. Nuance also alleged willful infringement and sought treble damages and attorneys’ fees from the defendants. The jury rejected Nuance’s infringement allegations in their entirety, returning a verdict of no infringement for all three Nuance patents and that Nuance’s alleged trade dress was not protectable. The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment.
Finnegan secured a victory for Juniper Networks in the Northern District of California against Florida-based Juniper Media in a trademark infringement and cybersquatting law suit. Defendant moved to dismiss (or to transfer) the trademark infringement and cybersquatting case claiming lack of jurisdiction on the grounds that its website was a passive website and the majority of the company’s operations were based in Florida. Judge William Alsup ruled in Juniper Networks’ favor finding that the Defendant’s repeated representations of being located in, or having connections with, Silicon Valley in its Twitter account, its Linked In page, and its CEO’s personal web pages was sufficient to demonstrate that it expressly aimed its activities at the Northern District. The investigative efforts of our inhouse investigation team were critical to building the case for personal jurisdiction. Following Juniper Networks’ win on the jurisdictional issue, the parties ultimately reached a settlement pursuant to which Juniper Media agreed to change its name, abandon its trademark applications, and transfer its domain names to the client. The case was ultimately dismissed following the defendant’s completion of all phase-out activities.
Finnegan’s longstanding client LG Electronics won a major victory in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, which awarded more than $168 million in damages in a trademark counterfeiting case against nearly 20 companies accused of selling counterfeit and knock-off LG headsets. Although the Lanham Act gives courts broad discretion in determining the amount of statutory damages—allowing damages of anywhere from $200,000 to $2 million per mark if the counterfeiting is found to be willful—the court decided to award the statutory maximum of $2 million per mark given the strength and recognition of the LG brand and TONE™ products. Notably, the ruling has considerable teeth, as it came with a provision ordering financial payment providers to hand over funds previously frozen under the court’s preliminary injunction order.
Finnegan represented Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. (“MRIS”) against antitrust counterclaims to MRIS’s claims for trademark and copyright infringement related to real estate listings. Finnegan successfully obtained summary judgment of the original antitrust counterclaims and the amended counterclaims.
Finnegan obtained urgent relief for AMC, which was fighting for its very existence. In addition to stopping Ameriquest's use of AMC, Finnegan negotiated the assignment of several of Ameriquest's federal trademark applications and registrations to AMC. AMC Mortgage Corporation is a small mortgage company founded over twenty years ago with the goal of becoming one of the country's most trustworthy and dependable mortgage companies. In contrast, Ameriquest Mortgage Company was the largest mortgage company in the country and had one of the worst reputations for customer service. Ameriquest began using the mark AMC for mortgages and related services. As a result, and due to Ameriquest's enormous size and pervasive use of the mark AMC, consumers began associating the mark with Ameriquest instead of AMC. AMC brought an action for trademark infringement, unfair competition, and cybersquatting against Ameriquest and its subsidiaries. Several months into the case, consumer criticism against Ameriquest grew and a potential sale to Citigroup was widely reported in the mainstream media. As a result, the potential harm to AMC's reputation increased exponentially and preliminary relief became urgent. AMC filed a preliminary injunction motion and, as a result, Ameriquest entered into a Court-approved judgment requiring Ameriquest to cease all use of AMC.
Two months after Finnegan client Under Armour launched its new connected fitness product under the HEALTHBOX/UA HEALTHBOX mark and name, Healthbox Global Partners, LLC (HGP), a consulting firm for healthcare organizations and startups operating under the HEALTHBOX mark and name, filed claims against Under Armour for trademark infringement, unfair competition, Delaware dilution, and Delaware deceptive trade practices. HGP also filed a motion for preliminary injunction, asking the court to immediately order Under Armour to stop using HEALTHBOX/UA HEALTHBOX and to recall all products from store shelves. Under Armour submitted rebuttal arguments and factual declarations, as well as expert testimony on Under Armour’s damages if forced to rebrand. After oral argument, the court ruled in favor of Under Armour on all key points. HGP dropped the suit against Under Armour shortly thereafter.
Petroleum Equipment Manufacturing Company (PEMCO) had unsuccessfully sought to have oil drilling and oil well equipment certified by Finnegan client American Petroleum Institute (API). Despite the fact that it was not certifi ed, PEMCO placed a counterfeit of the API certifi cation mark on its products. API objected and PEMCO agreed to cease using the counterfeit API certification mark. API later discovered that PEMCO was continuing to use the counterfeit API certification mark and retained Finnegan to sue PEMCO for trademark infringement, counterfeiting, and breach of contract. PEMCO agreed to a permanent injunction against further use of the API marks and payment of API’s costs. This result successfully stopped a counterfeiting operation that falsely passed off uncertified products as meeting API’s safety standards.
Starbucks is a household name with thousands of retail locations across the globe and a brand that extends well beyond coffee. Finnegan successfully opposed an application for the mark LESSBUCKS COFFEE for coffee, tea, and coffee- and tea-based beverages and related retail locations. We obtained a ruling that the STARBUCKS trademarks is a famous mark entitled to a broad scope of protection, and that the LESSBUCKS mark was likely to cause confusion.
Finnegan client, the American Petroleum Institute (API) entered into a settlement agreement—the latest in a series of enforcement actions to protect the integrity of API’s engine oil certification program that Finnegan has handled for API. The lawsuit alleged that Tailor Made Oil and its owners, William and Rebecca Selkirk, had falsely claimed their engine oil had been licensed by API to use the API engine oil quality certification marks that denote an oil meets the stringent API engine oil performance standards. The defendants admitted that they counterfeited API’s engine oil quality certification marks and made false performance claims for Tailor Made-branded engine oil sold to consumers and multiple branches of the military. As part of the settlement, Tailor Made Oil agreed to a 10-year ban on bottling or marketing any engine oil for diesel engines and for use in gasoline engines in cars, vans, trucks, and motorcycles. They also agreed to pay API’s costs in this litigation. API initially engaged Finnegan to obtain and test a variety falsely labeled engine oil products manufactured by a number of different businesses. After the test results confirmed that the engine oils did not meet API standards as claimed, Finnegan then launched a multipart, simultaneous attack on these businesses and individuals, filing counterfeiting, trademark infringement, and false advertising claims against twelve defendants in two different federal courts. Finnegan also coordinated efforts to apprise the U.S. Navy of the infringement because our investigation uncovered significant sales of falsely labeled products to naval and marine bases in the United States and abroad. Finnegan was able to obtain multiple preliminary and/or permanent injunctions against the defendants in all of these cases. Ultimately, each of the defendants capitulated and agreed to settlement.
When LG’s “Life’s Good” and “LG Life’s Good” corporate taglines were challenged, the company turned to Finnegan. On the eve of the trial, the plaintiff agreed to dismiss with prejudice all claims. The “Life’s Good” campaign and mark continue to run globally for a wide range of products.
Matrix Motor Company, Inc. alleged that the Toyota MATRIX passenger car infringed the MATRIX trademark allegedly used for race cars and related components and parts. The plaintiff sought an injunction and damages, but the judge granted our motion for summary judgment, finding no likelihood of confusion between the parties’ respective uses of the MATRIX mark.
Finnegan client Under Armor received a permanent injunction against Ass Armor LLC’s use of the mark ASS ARMOR for a snowboarding short. Seeking to enjoin such use, Under Armour raised claims for trademark infringement, trademark dilution, cybersquatting, and unfair competition. In addition to asserting rights in its UNDER ARMOUR mark, Under Armour asserted rights in the mark ARMOUR, as well as a family of other ARMOUR-formative marks. It also relied on a survey showing meaningful consumer confusion arising from the use of ASS ARMOR. Ass Armor aggressively defended the case and moved to cancel three of Under Armour’s trademark registrations for protective athletic gear. The case went to trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida where, after opening arguments and the start of testimony, Ass Armor approached Under Armour to settle. Ass Armor promptly agreed to (1) stop selling its product; (2) destroy the infringing inventory; (3) avoid using the mark ARMOR/ARMOUR in any way or manner, for any products; and (4) withdraw all of its claims against Under Armour’s registrations. Additionally, a consent judgment was entered and signed by the court providing that Under Armour’s UNDER ARMOUR, ARMOUR, and ARMOUR-formative marks are famous, and that defendant’s use of ASS ARMOR is infringing. 
Finnegan client PNC uses the mark SPENDOLOGY for online budgeting tools, and a third-party company, Spendology LLC, simultaneously began “using” the identical mark for virtually identical services. In an attempt to take advantage of the near-simultaneous adoption of the mark, the plaintiff repeatedly tried to extort money from PNC, alleging common law trademark infringement. This case was initially litigated at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), where PNC prevailed on a motion for summary judgment on the issue of trademark priority. The TTAB ruled in favor of PNC, finding PNC had prior rights in the mark. A suit was then filed in federal court seeking an injunction and $120 million in damages. Between the time when the TTAB made its ruling and the time when the plaintiff filed suit, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the B&B Hardware case, which held that TTAB decisions on issues of likelihood of confusion could have issue preclusive effect. Given that decision, Finnegan filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims on collateral estoppel grounds in view of the prior TTAB decision on the issue of “priority of use.” The presiding judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ruled in favor of PNC in a complete victory on the motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s lawsuit. This was one of the first cases to apply the Supreme Court’s decision in B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, regarding the preclusive effect of TTAB decisions, and was the first to consider how that decision applies to issues other than likelihood of confusion. The case was appealed to the Fourth Circuit, where it was dismissed after briefing on a procedural ground, only to be reinstated and taken up on the merits. The Fourth Circuit squarely affirmed the district court ruling on the ground that the issue of priority decided by the TTAB was identical to the issue of priority presented to the district court. Finally, the plaintiff requested a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court, which was denied.