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Delay in Enforcing Trademark Measured from When Infringement Became Actionable

Addressing laches and progressive encroachment, the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded a district court’s grant of summary judgment based on laches because the district court failed to “conduct a meaningful analysis” as to when the trademark infringement first became actionable. A.I.G. Agency, Inc. v American International Group, Inc., Case No. 21-1948 (8th Cir. May 13, 2022) (Loken, Gruender, Grasz, JJ.)

A.I.G. Agency (Agency) is a family-owned insurance broker in Missouri and American International Group, Inc. (International) is a large insurance company. Each company has used its version of an AIG trademark for decades. Agency first adopted the mark in 1958 while International began using AIG sometime between 1968 and 1970. In 1995, International sent a demand letter to Agency notifying it of International’s trademark registration and requesting that Agency cease use of the AIG mark. Agency responded that it had the right to use AIG in Missouri and Illinois because it had been using the trademark in those states long before International obtained its registration. In 2008, International again reached out to Agency demanding that it stop using AIG as a mark. Agency again asserted that it had the right to use the mark in Missouri and Illinois. International responded that it did not object to Agency’s use of AIG in St. Charles and St. Louis Counties in Missouri, but it would contest Agency’s use beyond that limited geographic scope.

Nearly a decade later, in 2017, Agency sued International for common law trademark infringement and unfair competition. International asserted that Agency’s claims were barred by laches and counterclaimed for trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition. Both parties moved for summary judgment, and the district court granted summary judgment for International, finding that Agency’s claims were barred by the doctrine of laches. Agency appealed.

The Eighth Circuit explained the difference between the equitable affirmative defense of laches (which is meant to bar claimants from bringing unreasonably delayed claims) and the doctrine of progressive encroachment (under which the period of delay in a trademark infringement case is measured not from when a claimant first learned of the allegedly infringing mark, but from when that infringement first became actionable). The Court explained that “[t]he doctrine [of progressive encroachment] saves trademark holders from being hoisted upon the horns of an inequitable dilemma—sue immediately and lose because the alleged infringer is insufficiently competitive to create a likelihood of confusion, or wait and be dismissed for unreasonable delay.” Here, Agency argued that it did not have an actionable and provable claim for infringement until 2012 when International changed its marketing strategy.

The Eighth Circuit found that the district court failed to “conduct a meaningful analysis” to determine when the infringement became actionable, noting that the district court found that laches barred the claims because “both parties have been using ‘AIG’ in the same markets for decades, each with full knowledge of the other’s activities.” The Court further criticized the district court for not employing a specific test to determine [...]

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Wild and Untamed Trademarks: Madrid Protocol Grants Right of Priority as of Constructive Use Date

Addressing for the first time the question of enforceability of a priority of right in a trademark granted pursuant to the Madrid Protocol where the registrant’s actual use in commerce began after the allegedly infringing use, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that the Madrid Protocol grants priority as of the constructive use date, but to prevail on an infringement action based on that superior right of priority, the registrant must still establish the requisite likelihood of confusion under the Lanham Act. Lodestar Anstalt v. Bacardi & Co., Case No. 19-55864 (9th Cir. Apr. 21, 2022) (Baldock, Berzon, Collins, JJ.)

Under the Madrid Protocol, applicants with trademarks in another country may obtain an “extension of protection” (generally equivalent to trademark registration) in the United States without needing to first use the mark in US commerce. Instead, the grant may be based on an applicant’s declaration of bona fide intent to use its mark in the United States.

In 2000 and 2001, Lichtenstein-based company Lodestar developed a brand of Irish whiskey called “The Wild Geese,” which was marketed in the US as “The Wild Geese Soldiers & Heroes.” Around 2008 and 2009, Lodestar developed the idea for the “Untamed” word marks, and in 2009 the US Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) accepted for filing two applications on behalf of Lodestar seeking extension of protection under the Madrid Protocol for the internationally registered “Untamed” word marks. The PTO published the marks for opposition, then granted the extensions of protection in 2011. In 2013, Lodestar developed a rum under The Wild Geese Soldiers and Heroes brand that used the Untamed word mark on the label. The rum was shown at the April 2013 Rum Renaissance Trade Show in Florida, where consumers sampled the rum. The rum was also featured in print advertisements associated with the trade show. But by June 2013, Lodestar had “decided to park the USA rum project as [it was] getting better returns in other markets.”

In 2012, Bacardi began developing the ad campaign “Bacardi Untameable.” Before launching the campaign, Bacardi ran a trademark clearance search that turned up Lodestar’s “Untamed” trademarks. From 2013 to 2017, Bacardi ran its “Bacardi Untameable” campaign. In response, Lodestar began promoting a then-nonexistent product “Untamed Revolutionary Rum” in an effort “to complement the Wild Geese Rum and also to combat Bacardi’s attempts to take over our Untamed mark.” In January 2015, the first Untamed Revolutionary Rum was sold to US retailers. In August 2016, Lodestar sued Bacardi for trademark infringement, arguing injury based on reverse confusion, as well as associated claims for unfair competition. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Bacardi. Lodestar appealed.

The Ninth Circuit found that the district court erred on the threshold question of whether Lodestar’s Revolutionary Rum should be considered in the analysis of likelihood of confusion. The district court had found that the relevant products were those existing prior to launch of Bacardi’s campaign (excluding the later-created Revolutionary Rum). The Court found [...]

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PTO Publishes Regulations to Implement Trademark Modernization Act

The US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) recently published its final rules implementing provisions of the Trademark Modernization Act of 2020 (TMA). Most changes are effective as of December 18, 2021, but certain changes (i.e., adjustments to the office action response period) won’t go into effect until December 1, 2022. The new regulations are summarized below.

Ex Parte Proceedings

The TMA created two new ex parte proceedings by which any third party (including the PTO director) can seek to challenge registrations for nonuse: Reexamination and expungement.

One of the TMA’s underlying legislative aims was to clean up the “clutter[ed]” register by removing registrations for marks not properly in use in commerce. These new proceedings offer efficient and less expensive alternatives to a cancellation proceeding before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (Board).

Reexamination

Any party (or the PTO director) can file a reexamination action to cancel some or all of the goods or services covered by a use-based registration if the trademark was not in use in commerce in connection with those goods or services before (1) the application filing date when the application was based on Section 1(a) (Use in Commerce), or (2) if the application was filed based on Section 1(b) (Intent to Use), the date the amendment to allege use was filed, or the deadline by which the applicant needed to file a statement of use, whichever is later. A reexamination proceeding must be initiated within the first five years of registration.

Expungement

Similarly, an expungement action can be brought by any party (including the PTO director) seeking to cancel some or all of the goods and/or services from a registration based on the registrant never having used the trademark in commerce in connection with the relevant goods/services. An expungement proceeding must be initiated between the third and 10th year of registration. However, until December 27, 2023, an expungement action can be requested for any registration that is at least three years old, regardless of how long it has been registered.

Requirements for Ex Parte Petitions

The final rules detail the requirements for a petition for expungement or reexamination:

  • A $400 fee
  • The US trademark registration number of the registration being challenged
  • The basis for the petition
  • The name and contact information of the petitioner
  • The name and contact information of the designated attorney, if any
  • A list of the goods and services that are subject to challenge
  • A verified statement of the facts, which should include details of the reasonable investigation of nonuse and a “concise factual statement of the relevant basis for the petition”
  • Copies of the supporting evidence with an itemized index.

A reasonable investigation of nonuse will vary depending on the nature of the goods and/or services but “should focus on the mark disclosed in the registration and the identified goods and/or services, keeping in mind their scope and applicable trade channels.” Also, “[a]s a general matter, a single search using an internet search engine likely would not be [...]

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Pardon My French: France Wins Trademark Dispute Using Sovereign Immunity

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed a district’s court denial of sovereign immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA) and remanded the case to be dismissed with prejudice, holding that France was immune from a trademark infringement claim in the United States brought by the former owner of the domain name France.com. France.com, Inc. v. The French Republic, Case No. 20-1016 (4th Cir. Mar. 25, 2021) (Motz, J.)

Jean-Noel Frydman and his company France.com, Inc. (collectively, Frydman) purchased and registered the domain name France.com and trademarked the name in the United States and in the European Union. In 2015, the Republic of France (RoF) intervened in an ongoing lawsuit between Frydman and a third party, asserting the exclusive right to the use of the term “France” commercially. The RoF also insisted that the use of “France” by a private enterprise infringed on its sovereignty. The Paris District Court agreed and ordered the transfer of the domain name to the RoF.

Frydman filed suit for trademark infringement, expropriation, cybersquatting and reverse domain name hijacking, and federal unfair competition in a Virginia district court against the RoF. The RoF moved to dismiss the claim based on the FSIA. The district court denied the motion, stating that the FSIA immunity defense would be best raised after discovery. The RoF appealed.

The Fourth Circuit first determined, based on Supreme Court precedent, that sovereign immunity was a threshold question to be addressed “as near to the outset of the case as is reasonably possible” and not to be postponed until after discovery.

The Court next considered whether the RoF was immune to suit. The FSIA provides a presumption of immunity for foreign states that can only be overcome if the complaint provides enough information to satisfy one of the specified exceptions. Frydman argued that the commercial activity and expropriation exceptions applied.

The commercial activity exception removes immunity where a foreign state has commercial activity in, or that has a direct effect in, the United States. Essentially, a court must determine whether the actions of the foreign state are those of a sovereign or those of a private party engaged in commerce. The Fourth Circuit first identified that the actual cause of the injury at issue to Frydman was the French court’s ruling that the domain name belonged to the RoF, and found that all claims of wrongdoing by the RoF flowed form the French court’s decision. Additionally, even if it was solely the transfer of the domain name that harmed Frydman, and not the French court’s judgment, the transfer was still based on the French court’s judgment that provided the basis for RoF to obtain the domain name. Because the cause of action was based on the powers of a sovereign nation (the foreign judgment) and not the actions of a private citizen in commerce, the Fourth Circuit found that the commercial activity exception did not apply.

The Fourth Circuit next rejected Frydman’s assertion of the expropriation exception. This exception [...]

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BREXIT: How Will It Impact Your European Trademark Rights?

The United Kingdom (UK) has officially withdrawn from the European Union (EU) on February 1, 2020, but will only become a third party after a transition period ending on December 31, 2020. With that date fast approaching, you are probably wondering what will change for your trademark rights on January 1, 2021?

EU TRADEMARKS REGISTERED BEFORE JANUARY 1, 2021

  • Owners of EU trademarks (and EU parts of International Registrations) registered on or before December 31, 2020 will automatically receive a registered and enforceable UK trademark on January 1, 2021, without any re-examination or additional costs. The UK trademark will be for the same sign, the same goods, and the same filing, priority or seniority date as its corresponding EU trademark.
  • Trademark owners will have the right to opt-out from this automatic cloning as of January 1, 2021 if they have no interest in the UK territory.
  • As of January 1, 2021, EU registered trademarks and corresponding UK clones must be renewed separately.
  • Renewals made before January 1, 2021 for EU trademark registrations expiring after this date will not apply to UK clones. Also, UK clones expiring within the six (6) months following January 1, 2021 will benefit from an additional six (6)-month renewal period, with no late renewal fee to be paid.
  • If a EU trademark is declared invalid or cancelled in the EU as result of a procedure that was ongoing on December 31, 2020, its UK clone will also be deemed invalid or cancelled on the same date if the grounds are applicable in the UK.

EU TRADEMARK APPLICATIONS FILED BEFORE JANUARY 1, 2021

  • EU trademark applications (and EU parts of International Registrations) filed, but not yet registered, before January 1, 2021 will not be automatically cloned into UK trademark applications.
  • The holders of such applications have until September 30, 2021 to reapply for an identical trademark in the UK that will benefit from the earlier filing date of its corresponding EU trademark. These new UK filings will be subject to an examination process as well as UK national filing fees.

EU TRADEMARK APPLICATIONS FILED AFTER JANUARY 1, 2021

  • As of January 1, 2021, new EU trademark applications will cover the 27 remaining EU Member States, but will not be protected in the UK.
  • To acquire trademark protection in the UK, one will have to apply for a separate UK trademark which may still claim priority of an earlier national or EU trademark filed within the preceding six (6) months.

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

  • As of January 1, 2021, pending or new oppositions or invalidity actions based solely on UK rights will be dismissed.
  • Licenses recorded for EU trademarks will not automatically be recorded for UK clones or new UK filings.
  • Existing EU Customs applications for action will not continue to have effect in the UK unless granted by UK customs authorities.
  • Agreements will have to be checked to amend provisions if appropriate.

If you are conducting or planning to conduct business [...]

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Clarification or Raising the Bar? PTO Director Issues New Guidance for Discretionary PTAB Denials

On June 21, 2022, US Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) Director Katherine K. Vidal issued a memorandum addressing interim procedures for discretionary denials in America Invents Act (AIA)-post grant proceedings at the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (Board). In 2020, in order to minimize the potential conflict between the Board and parallel district court proceedings, the PTO designated the Board’s opinion in Apple v. Fintiv as precedential. Since Fintiv, the Board has issued several discretionary denials of institution based on parallel proceedings in district (and in some cases other administrative) courts. Director Vidal’s memo seeks to provide additional guidance on the PTO’s interpretation of Fintiv and its progeny and addresses multiple factors that were previously left to individual administrative law judge (ALJ) interpretation.

The memo includes rendering an initial evaluation of the merits of the petition. In particular, the Board will not deny institution of an inter partes review (IPR) or post-grant review (PGR) under Fintiv when a petition presents compelling evidence of unpatentability. This standard is higher than the institution standard, which requires only that “there is a reasonable likelihood that petitioner would prevail with respect to at least 1 of the claims challenged in the petition.” While the memo does not elaborate on the evidence required to meet this compelling standard, numerous decisions were cited as illustrative. (See: e.g., Illumina Inc. v. Trs. of Columbia Univ., IPR2020-00988, Paper 20 (PTAB Dec. 8, 2020); Synthego Corp. v. Agilent Techs., Inc., IPR2022-00402, Paper 11 (May 31, 2022); Samsung Elecs. Co. v. Scramoge Tech., Ltd., IPR2022-00241, Paper 10 (June 13, 2022).)

Additionally, Director Vidal confirmed that Fintiv does not apply to parallel proceedings before the International Trade Commission nor where there has been a stipulation not to pursue the same grounds in a district court proceeding. The stipulation applies to grounds that are actually raised in the petition and any grounds that could have reasonably been raised in the petition, suggesting that there may be some dispute later in the district court proceeding about what grounds “could have reasonably been raised in the petition.”

Finally, the memo clarified the second factor of the Fintiv analysis: the speed with which the district court case may go to trial and be resolved. The Board will consider not only the scheduled trial date, but also the median time-to-trial for the particular district court, number of cases before the specific district court judge and the speed and availability of other dispositions.

Practice Note: While the standard for institution has not changed, the new compelling standard effectively ups the bar for any IPR, PGR or covered business method (CBM) proceedings where there is a parallel district court case. Prior to filing a new petition, patent challengers should objectively weigh the merits of their challenge or consider stipulating not to pursue the same invalidity grounds in the parallel district court proceeding.




Message Received: Service of Complaint by Email Found Sufficient

The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s entry of default judgment against the defendant because email service of the complaint was proper under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. Viahart, L.L.C. v. He GangPeng, Che Haixing, Aszune, Case No. 21-40166 (5th Cir. Feb. 14, 2022) (Wiener, Graves, Ho, JJ.)

Viahart manufactures, distributes and retails toys and educational products under registered trademarks. Viahart sued approximately 50 defendants for selling counterfeit products bearing its trademark on several online marketplaces. At the time Viahart filed its complaint, it moved to serve all defendants by email. The district court denied the motion but permitted Viahart to conduct discovery to determine the identities and addresses of the defendants through the online marketplaces. After attempting to obtain contact information for the defendants, Viahart again moved to serve the defendants by email. In the motion, Viahart documented its efforts to serve defendants physically and provided proof of attempted service for various defendants. The district court granted the motion, and Viahart served the defendants via email.

Viahart subsequently moved for entry of default judgment against defendants that failed to appear or otherwise respond to the complaint. The district court granted the default judgment motion and determined that each defaulting defendant was liable for $500,000 each plus attorneys’ fees and costs. The judgment permanently enjoined defendants from using Viahart’s trademarks, competing with Viahart unfairly, and withdrawing any funds from the online marketplaces or payment processors. Three of the defendants—GangPeng, Haixing and Aszune—appealed the judgment, arguing that service was improper, that they were improperly joined with the 50 other defendants and that “there was no trademark infringement.”

The Fifth Circuit found no error in the district court’s entry of default judgment. The Court noted that it reviews the entry of default for an abuse of discretion and the underlying factual determinations for clear error. The Court determine that Viahart properly complied with the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure in its attempts to serve GangPeng, including documenting its attempts to personally serve GangPeng and attaching the required affidavits that allowed the district court to authorize substitute service. As for Haixing and Aszune, the Court found that under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, email service was appropriate because it was court ordered, was reasonably calculated to notify the defendants and was not prohibited by an international agreement.

The Fifth Circuit rejected the defendants’ misjoinder argument, finding that there was no basis for misjoinder under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 20 and 21. The Court found that the complaint sufficiently alleged that the defendants were all working together and that their conduct arose out of the same transaction, and therefore joinder was appropriate. Finally, the Court rejected the defendants’ argument that there was “no trademark infringement” because factual questions and unpled affirmative defenses cannot be raised on appeal of a default judgment when they were not presented to the district court. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court’s default [...]

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Appeal Shuttered for Lack of Finality

The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and therefore dismissed an appeal of a district court decision staying a federal action pending state court litigation between the parties. Window World Int.’l, LLC et al. v. O’Toole et al., Case No. 21-1108 (8th Cir. Jan. 7, 2022) (Loken, Colloton, Benton, JJ.).

Window World International owns registered trademarks for the marketing of exterior remodeling products, such as custom-made vinyl windows. Window World distributes products through 200 independently owned and operated franchisees, including Window World of St. Louis, Inc. and Window World of Springfield-Peoria, Inc., companies co-owned by James T. Lomax III (collectively, the Lomax parties). Window World sublicenses its franchisees to use its trademarks.

In January 2015, the Lomax parties and other Window World franchisees sued Window World in the North Carolina Business Court. The Lomax parties alleged that Window World failed to make franchise disclosures required by federal and state law. They also asserted claims of fraud and breach of contract. In April 2019, the Lomax parties sent letters to Window World customers making several misrepresentations about Window World’s product warranty. Window World commenced action in federal court, asserting causes of action under the Lanham Act for false advertising, trademark infringement, unfair competition and dilution of a famous mark.

The Lomax parties moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim or stay the federal action pursuant to the Supreme Court’s 1976 decision in Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v. US, which held that the interests of effective judicial administration may lead a federal court to reject taking jurisdiction in a case involving a concurrent state proceeding. Window World opposed the dismissal and stay requests. The district court dismissed several of Window World’s claims but ruled that it had a plausible trademark infringement and unfair competition claim and denied dismissal as to those claims. The district court also stayed the federal action pending determination of the scope of the claims regarding the protected marks in the North Carolina litigation. Window World appealed.

The Eighth Circuit found that the issued stay order was neither a final order under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 nor a collateral interlocutory order that may be appealed. As a result, the Court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. In doing so, the Court explained that an order staying civil proceedings is interlocutory and not ordinarily a final decision for purposes of § 1291. However, if the stay effectively ends the litigation, then the order is final and jurisdiction under § 1291 is proper. Here, the Court concluded that the lower court’s stay was not a final order because the order contemplated further litigation in federal court. Additionally, the stay was not a final order merely because it had the practical effect of allowing a state court to be the first to rule on common issues. Therefore, the Court concluded that the stay order was not appealable as a final order and dismissed the appeal.




Not on My Watch: Disclosure of Restored Goods’ Source Obviates Consumer Confusion

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a ruling that a defendant’s use of a mark in connection with the sale of used goods did not create consumer confusion, finding that the district court adequately analyzed the relevant Polaroid factors and did not erroneously apply the 1947 Champion Spark Plug case. Hamilton Int’l Ltd. v. Vortic, LLC, Case No. 20-3369 (2d Cir. Sept. 14. 2021) (Cronan, J.)

Vortic is a watchmaker that specializes in the restoration and conversion of antique pocket watches into wristwatches. Hamilton International brought a trademark infringement suit against Vortic based on a watch that Vortic sold called the “The Lancaster.” The Lancaster name pays homage to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which is where the Hamilton Watch Company was originally located. The watch was made with restored “Railroad-Era” movements (the internal mechanism of the watch with the hands and face attached) that were originally produced by Hamilton. The Hamilton mark could be seen both on the antique face of the watch and through the see-through back on the internal workings. Vortic’s mark, as well as “The Lancaster” and a serial number, were located on a ring on the rear of the watch.

The district court focused on the Polaroid factors in its likelihood of consumer confusion analysis and on the issue of disclosure under Champion. The district court found that Vortic’s labeling and disclosure were compliant with Champion, that there was no evidence of actual confusion or bad faith and that the buyers of these antique watches were sophisticated purchasers. The district court found no likelihood of confusion and entered judgment for Vortic on all claims. Hamilton appealed.

The main issue on appeal was whether the district court erred in finding no likelihood of consumer confusion. To show a likelihood of consumer confusion, “[a] plaintiff must show ‘a probability of confusion, not a mere possibility’ affecting ‘numerous ordinary prudent purchasers.’”

The Second Circuit considered the district court’s application of Champion. In that case, the Supreme Court determined that keeping the “Champion” logo on refurbished spark plugs would not mislead consumers as the plugs were originally Champion plugs and had the terms “Repaired” or “Used” stamped on them, which provided full disclosure. The Court explained that the lesson from Champion is that when a refurbished “genuine product” is resold, “the seller’s disclosures and the extent of a product’s modifications are significant factors to consider” in any infringement analysis.

Hamilton argued that the repair of the Hamilton parts that went into The Lancaster was so extensive that Champion should not have been applied. The Second Circuit disagreed, noting that the only modification to the original movement was a replacement lever, and that it was clear to consumers that The Lancaster was an “antique pocket watch modified into a wristwatch rather than an entirely new product.”

Hamilton also unsuccessfully argued that the district court erred by not first using the Polaroid factors before turning to the Champion analysis. The Second Circuit explained that since the plaintiff bears the burden [...]

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Lanham Act Reaches Foreign Defendants’ Extraterritorial Conduct, but Worldwide Injunction Too Broad

The US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit upheld a district court’s injunction barring multiple foreign companies from directly or indirectly using a US remote control manufacturer’s trade dress based on the extraterritorial reach of the Lanham Act. However, the Court narrowed the scope of the worldwide injunction to countries where the US company currently markets or sells its products. Hetronic Int’l, Inc. v. Hetronic Germany GmbH, Case Nos. 20-6057, -6100 (10th Cir. Aug. 24, 2021) (Phillips, J.)

Hetronic International is a US company that manufactures radio remote controls for heavy-duty construction equipment. Hetronic Germany GmbH, Hydronic Steuersysteme GmbH, ABI Holding GmbH, Abitron Germany GmbH and Abitron Austria GmbH (collectively, the Distributers) are foreign companies that have distributed Hetronic’s products—mostly in Europe—for almost a decade. Based on an old research and development agreement between the parties, the Distributors concluded that they, not Hetronic, owned the rights to Hetronic’s trademarks and other intellectual property. The Distributors accordingly reverse-engineered Hetronic’s products and began manufacturing and selling their own copycat products, mostly in Europe. The copycat products were identical to Hetronic’s and were sold under the Hetronic brand and the same product names. Hetronic terminated the parties’ distribution agreements, but the Distributers continued to sell their copycat products. The Distributors attempted to break into the US market, selling several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of products before backing off after Hetronic sued. They then focused their efforts on Europe.

Hetronic sued the Distributors, along with their manager and owner Albert Fuchs, under the Lanham Act. The Distributors moved for summary judgment, arguing that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to resolve the Lanham Act claims because the conduct at issue occurred overseas. The Distributors asserted that Hetronic’s claims had to be dismissed because the Lanham Act applied extraterritorially only if a defendant’s conduct had a substantial effect on US commerce, and the Distributors’ conduct did not. The district court rejected that argument and denied summary judgment.

In a separate proceeding initiated by the Distributors in the European Union, the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) concluded that Hetronic owned all of the disputed intellectual property. Based on the EUIPO proceeding, the district court applied the doctrine of issue preclusion and granted Hetronic summary judgment on the Distributors’ ownership defense. After an 11-day trial, a jury found that the Distributors had willfully infringed Hetronic’s trademarks and awarded Hetronic more than $100 million in damages, mostly for trademark infringement. The district court also entered a permanent injunction prohibiting the Distributors’ infringing activities worldwide. The Distributors appealed.

On appeal, the Distributors accepted that the Lanham Act can sometimes apply extraterritorially but argued that the Lanham Act did not reach their activity as foreign defendants making sales to foreign consumers. Specifically, the Distributors argued that:

  • The district court erroneously concluded that the Lanham Act applied extraterritorially.
  • The injunction lacked the specificity required by Fed. R. of Civ. Pro. 65.
  • The injunction’s worldwide reach was too broad.

The Distributors challenged the district court’s exercise of personal [...]

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