A dispute that began with an unauthorized burger placed on a menu by a licensee recently culminated in the dismissal of the latest lawsuit between feuding factions of Benihana, the Japanese teppanyaki restaurant chain. In early March, the US District Court in the Southern District of New York dismissed a lawsuit brought by Benihana of Tokyo LLC (BOT) against its American counterpart, Benihana, Inc. (BI) that raised claims of breach of contract and breach of good faith, and highlighted the risks of splitting trademark rights between geographic territories.
A series of recent decisions have heightened the standard for obtaining preliminary injunctive relief for trademark infringement. This trend presents unique challenges for brand owners seeking to enjoin unauthorized “holdover” use of a trademark by former franchisees or licensees. This situation commonly arises when a franchisee or licensee continues using a franchisor or licensor’s trademarks following termination of a franchise or license agreement.
Under the test for preliminary injunctive relief in most jurisdictions, a plaintiff must establish:
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Last month, the US International Trade Commission issued a decision invalidating a trademark for Converse’s iconic Chuck Taylor sneaker. Although Converse did win some of its claims, the ITC decision overall represents a potentially significant setback for Converse after the company took aggressive action to try to stop the sale of shoes that Converse claimed infringed its rights in the Chuck Taylor design.
In the recent case of International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium v. Security University, LLC, the Second Circuit articulated its test for analyzing nominative fair use claims in trademark infringement cases. While we now know the Second Circuit’s test, the case also highlights a notable circuit split between the Ninth, Second, and Third Circuits regarding nominative fair use. As a result, companies intending to rely on a nominative fair use defense may have varying success depending on the jurisdiction.
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A case filed by Burberry Ltd. earlier this year against JC Penney Corp Inc. in the Southern District of New York for trademark infringement, and related state and federal unfair competition claims over JC Penney’s use of a checkered pattern on coats appears to have quickly been resolved. Burberry Ltd. et al., v. J.C. Penney Corp. Inc., No. 1:16-cv-00982 (S.D.N.Y. 2016). In addition to state and federal trademark infringement, Burberry also asserted the more serious claims of trademark counterfeiting, which carries with it statutory penalties.
Washington, DC — Earlier this month, Arent Fox LLP secured a victory for Diesel S.p.A. after a federal court granted default judgement in a lawsuit the Italian clothing company filed against nine John Doe defendants operating 83 cybersquatting websites that sold counterfeit products appearing to carry the internationally recognized label.
Costco is defending a trademark infringement lawsuit over its sale of Anne Cole swimwear, an iconic line of women’s swimwear that has been sold in the US for over 30 years. The suit will likely turn on the scope of the “first sale” doctrine—which shields resellers of genuine trademarked products from liability for trademark infringement—and whether the manner in which Costco displays the products is likely to mislead consumers as to their source.
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