New England Anime Society, Inc. v. Fantastic Gatherings, Inc. et al. (17-cv-12339).

New England Anime Society (NEAS”) sued Fantastic Gatherings and Interactive Meet and Greet for trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition, and cybersquatting. NEAS holds a three day convention every spring, known as “Anime Boston,” to celebrate Japanese pop-culture, including anime, manga, J-Pop, J-Rock, and live-action Japanese media.  NEAS registered the ANIME BOSTON mark and has used it in connection with this convention for sixteen years.  The event garners publicity through NEAS’ promotional efforts, news coverage, and social media, and is attended by more than twenty-five thousand people from all over the world. NEAS alleges that the defendants have developed and are promoting an event to take place in Hanover, Massachusetts.  The formal name of the event is Boston SouhCoast Comic Con & Collectibles Extravaganza, but is allegedly being promoted by the defendants as “Boston AnimeFest” and “Boston Anime Fest,” and the website relating to the event is at www.bostonanimefest.com, which redirects to the defendants’ webpage at www.necomicon.net. Fantastic Gatherings, the company actually sponsoring the event, is alleged to have direct knowledge of NEAS’ marks, because two of its officers and directors previously worked as volunteers for NEAS.  In response to a cease and desist letter, the defendants asserted that the terms ‘Boston” and “Anime” “fall into fair use as generic when used together in either order.”  NEAS asserts, however, that the PTO registered the mark after determining that the mark had acquired distinctiveness through the years of NEAS’ use.  NEAS asserts that the defendants deliberately chose a confusingly similar mark to ride on the coattails of NEAS and its anime festival.

School Family Media, Inc. v. School Tool Box, LLC (17-cv-12290).

School Family Media (“SFM”) sued School Tool Box (“STB”) under the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and the Lanham Act. SFM runs a website, www.teacherlists.com, that allows teachers to list materials their students will need and allows parents to order the materials online by providing connections to school supply vendors.  SFM asserts that, as of November 2017, close to one and a half million supply lists were posted to the site and that the site had attracted nearly six million page views in 2017 alone.  Based on this, and on several awards that the site has received, SFM asserts that the (as-yet unregistered) TeacherLists™ mark is famous.  SFM obtained many similar sounding domain names to prevent others from selecting a domain name too close to its own, but mistakenly allowed its registration of “teacherlist.com” to lapse.  STB, a business that sells school supplies to PTO and PTA organizations, is alleged to have registered “teacherlist.com” and to have that site redirect traffic to its www.schooltoolbox/teacherlist/ site that is alleged to be substantially identical to SFM’s site.  SFM further alleges that the computer source code for the STB site was literally copied from SFM’s site.  Finally, SFM alleges that, after notifying STB of its concerns with the new website, SFM’s Facebook page was merged into a TeacherList Facebook page, believed to have been caused by STB.