The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that a brewing company’s statements that a competitor’s beers were made with corn syrup were not false and misleading under the Lanham Act because the competitor listed corn syrup as an ingredient in its beers. Molson Coors Beverage Co. USA LLC v. Anheuser-Busch Cos., LLC, Case Nos. 19-2200, -2713, -2782, -3097, -3116 (7th Cir. May 1, 2020) (Easterbrook, J.).

Continue Reading Light Beer Sweetener – Not So Sticky After All

A unanimous panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a default judgment and permanent injunction against an online marketer for trademark infringement, false advertising, dilution, unfair competition under the Lanham Act, and claims under Illinois statutory and common law. Quincy Bioscience, LLC v. Ellishbooks, et al., Case No. 19-1799 (7th Cir. Apr. 24, 2020) (Wood, J.).

Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Slaps Online Marketer with Default Judgment, Permanent Injunction

Resolving a split among the circuits regarding whether proof of willfulness is necessary for an award of a trademark infringer’s profits, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a unanimous decision holding that the plain language of the Lanham Act has never required a showing of willful infringement in order to obtain a profits award in a suit for trademark infringement under §1125(a). Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil, Inc., et al. Case No. 18-1233 (Supr. Ct. Apr. 23, 2020) (Gorsuch, Justice) (Alito, Justice, concurring) (Sotomayor, Justice, concurring).

Continue Reading Supreme Court: Profit Disgorgement Available Remedy for Trademark Infringement, Willful or Not

Addressing issues related to the disgorgement of profits and attorneys’ fees in a trademark infringement lawsuit, the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed a denial of such fees and profits. Safeway Transit LLC and Aleksey Silenko v. Discount Party Bus, Inc., Party Bus MN LLC, and Adam Fernandez, Case No. 18-2990 (8th Cir. Apr. 6, 2020) (Smith, J.).

In 2000, Alex Fernandez started Party Bus MN, which was the first party-bus company in the Twin Cities region. In 2004, Fernandez formed Discount Party Bus Co., LLC (DPB).  Fernandez also used the names “Rent My Party Bus” and “952 Limo Bus” in print advertising before 2008.


Continue Reading No Disgorgement When Injunction is Sufficient Remedy

Addressing the scope of trade dress protection, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that the shape and color scheme of a product was functional and therefore only eligible for patent law’s protection of utilitarian inventions. CTB, Inc. v. Hog Slat, Inc., Case No. 18-2107 (4th Cir. Mar. 27, 2020) (Wynn, J.) (Keenan, J. concurring) (Rushing, J. concurring).

Continue Reading No Trade Dress Protection for Functional Shape and Color Scheme

TRADEMARKS / ATTORNEY’S FEE AWARD

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit officially joined its sister circuits in holding that the Supreme Court standard for awarding attorney’s fees in patent cases, set forth in Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., was equally applicable to attorney’s fees claims under the Lanham Act. In doing so, the Seventh Circuit overruled its prior holding that a plaintiff’s claims were only “exceptional” under the Lanham Act if they constituted an abuse of process. LHO Chicago River, LLC v. Perillo, Case. No. 19-1848 (7th Cir. Nov. 8, 2019) (Manion, J).


Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Formally Adopts Octane Fitness Standard for Trademark Cases