Onyx, which sells auto parts and accessories under its “iD®” mark, accuses ID Parts of copying this mark in connection with sales of auto parts to benefit from the name recognition and good will associated with the mark and to mislead consumers into believing that ID Parts’ website, www.idparts.com, is associated with Onyx. Onyx, a pure online retailer, began selling through its www.CARiD.com website in 2008. Since then, Onyx says it’s iD® line has grown into one of the largest online retailers of automotive products in the country, receiving over 10 million visitors monthly. Onyx holds registrations for several stylized “iD” marks as well as “CARiD,” “BOATiD,” “CAMPERiD,” “MOTORCYCLEiD,” “POWERSPORTSiD,” “RACINGiD,” “RECREATIONiD,” “STREETiD,” “TOOLSiD” and “TRUCKiD.” Onyx asserts that ID Parts took on that name at the end of 2009, with full knowledge of Onyx’s rights in the “iD” marks, and in 2014 sought registration of a stylized mark consisting of the term “id” contained within a circle. That registration was refused due to a likelihood of confusion with Onyx’s “iD” mark, and ultimately the application was abandoned. Despite this, and despite receiving two cease and desist letters from Onyx, ID Parts has continued using the mark and domain name. Onyx asserts trademark infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin under the Lanham Act and Massachusetts common law, dilution, cybersquatting, and deceptive trade practices under M.G.L. c. 93(a) § 2. Judge Zobel has the case.
FH Cann, a debt collection company, sought to collect defendant and North Carolina resident Troy Moorman’s past due student loan debt. In response, Moorman mailed a packet of documents to FH Cann that included an affidavit claiming that he had a “common law copyright” and had trademarked his name and another purporting to establish a security interest in all of FH Cann’s assets, which FH Cann says included a forged signature on behalf of FH Cann. Moorman subsequently sent an invoice to FH Cann seeking $500,000 for Cann’s use of Moorman’s name. He then filed a UCC-1 statement with the Secretary of the Commonwealth, purporting to place a $500,000 lien on the home of co-plaintiffs Sherri and Frank Cann, owners of FH Cann. Cann seeks declaratory judgment that Moorman has no copyright or trademark rights in his name, that the purported contract, lien and UCC statement are not valid, injunctive relief preventing continuations of Moorman’s behavior, a decree granting the Cann’s quiet title in the house on which Moorman purports to have a lien, and actual and punitive damages resulting from the lien under a conversion or trespass to chattel theory. Judge Woodlock has the pleasure of unwinding this case.
Tile sued S&W Dealz in April for trademark infringement. After S&W Dealz failed to answer the complaint or to oppose Tile’s motion for entry of default, Judge Burroughs granted Tile’s motion. As a result of the default, the willfulness allegations of the complaint are deemed to be true, so S&W Dealz is deemed to have willfully infringed. Tile sought $500,000 in willfulness damages for each of the two trademarks in suit, primarily to serve as a deterrent to future infringer (Tile apparently acknowledged the low likelihood of recovering any money from S&W Dealz). Judge Burroughs acknowledged that Tile could opt for statutory damages, but the statutory damages provision was intended to provide compensation to the plaintiff and serve as a deterrent against future willful infringement, but noted that the statutory damage provision was not intended to provide plaintiff with a windfall. She awarded $50,000 per mark, for a total of $100,000. She also granted Tile’s request for a permanent injunction.
Yogasleep sells white noise sound machines under a variety of registered trademarks, including Yogasleep®, Dohm®, Dohm Elite®, Hushh®, Rohm® and Whish® accuses 1st Avenue of trademark infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin in connection with 1st Avenue’s sales of Yogasleep products through online commerce sites such as Amazon. The complaint characterizes the accused products as being “non-genuine, potentially stolen or counterfeit,” and asserts that advertising such products as “new” deceives customers. Because 1st Avenue is not a licensed retailer and it is unclear how it obtains Yogasleep products, Yogasleep’s warranty may not apply to 1st Avenue-sold products. Yogasleep further points to a negative review on Amazon that cited 1st Avenue’s lack of customer service as evidence of harm to Yogasleep’s good will. Judge Wolf has the case.
Bosch makes fuel injectors and related car parts and sells them through a network of authorized distributers and authorized internet dealers. The distributers are permitted to sell only to the authorized Internet dealers, who can only sell to end-users through designated websites. The authorized resellers are further authorized to provide aftermarket service and warranties for Bosch products, such as maintenance, diagnostic and repair services. Bosch asserts that Lincoln Diesel sells both new and remanufactured parts that it identifies as OEM Bosch Parts, but that Lincoln Diesel is not an authorized reseller of Bosch. The complaint asserts that Lincoln Diesel obtains Bosch products as used products that have already been sold, at liquidation, or through importation from other regions of the world, and obtained or attempted to obtain products from authorized Bosch distributors or resellers in violation of the authorized parties’ agreements with Bosch. Bosch asserts trademark infringement, tortious interference with contractual relations, and unfair competition under the laws of multiple states. The case is before Judge Zobel.
Modulus Financial Engineering (MFE) filed suit against Modulus Data USA and Modulus Data, Inc. (collectively, MDU) asserting trademark infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin. MFE has used the MODULUS mark for software design and development since 20002, and owns registrations for MODULUS in connection with the same. MFE asserts that MDU began using the mark “Modulus Data” through a website known as Log10solutions.com in 2015 when it applied for a registration on the mark. MFE asserts that, in the application for registration, MDU falsely asserted a date of first use that preceded MFE’s application for a federal trademark on MODULUS. MFE further alleges that MDU strategically described its offerings to obscure the fact that software is the base of its products and services. In March 2016, MDU changed its name from Logic10 Solutions to Modulus Data. MFE then sent a cease and desist letter, after which MFE asserts that MDU filed a Section 7 Request with the PTO to change the date of first use in commerce of November 10, 2015. In addition to the trademark infringement and related claims, MFE seeks cancellation of MDU’s “Modulus”-based trademarks.
RS Means and The Gordian Group accuse SED Associates and Aaron Richardson of copyright and trademark infringement in connection with SED’s alleged sales of counterfeit copies of books relating to construction cost estimating data. RS Means asserts that its RS Means data is the construction industry standard for local cost estimation data, and that SED sells counterfeit copies on Amazon under the pseudonym “Code Emporium.” RS Means says that Aaron Richardson, an SED engineer, purchased seven different RS Means titles in November 2019, which were then copied and sold via Amazon, several specifically from Aaron Richardson himself. RS Means points to reviews of these books on Amazon, which include complaints as to the quality of the physical books themselves, as opposed to the content. In addition to copyright and trademark claims, RS Means asserts unfair competition under M.G.L. c. 93A. Judge Casper has the case.
Toddle Inn, a franchisor of educational and day care service, sued former franchisee KPJ Associates in 2018, asserting breach of contract, Lanham Act unfair competition and trade secret misappropriation in connection with KPJ’s continuing use of the Toddle Inn marks and materials. The parties were ordered to arbitration pursuant to the franchise agreement. On March 31, 2020, following completion of the arbitration process, Judge Levy confirmed the arbitration award and deemed it a final judgment. A writ of execution to enforce the judgment was entered on May 7, 2020, followed a day later by KPJ’s filing of an emergency motion to quash the writ and asserting that the judgment was not yet final, in that the time to appeal had not yet passed. Judge Levy granted KPJ’s motion. He determined that General Order 2020-2, which the Court had issued on March 18th in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and which extended all deadlines in civil cases by thirty days, applied to deadlines for appeals to the First Circuit. This pushed the deadline for KPJ to appeal from the original April 30, 2020 date to May 30th, making the writ premature. He rejected Toddle Inn’s contention that any extension of the deadline for appeal must originate from the First Circuit, noting that Fed. R. App. P 4, which governs the time for appeal, expressly permits district courts to extend the deadline. Further, under that Rule, if a party moves to extend the deadline for appeal within 30 days of its passing and demonstrates excusable neglect or good cause, the deadline can be extended regardless of whether General Order 2020-2 automatically did so. KPJ orally requested extension at a May 12th videoconference hearing, within 30 days of the initial April 30th deadline, and demonstrated good cause in that the plain wording of the General Order supported KPJ’s belief that the deadline had been extended. Thus, either way, KPJ’s motion to quash the writ of execution would be granted.
Note – While this blog has thus far focused exclusively on intellectual property in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, I am expanding the scope to cover northern New England (Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine) as well. The name of the blog will remain the same.
Judge Gorton denied Canadian Fish’s motion to set aside Cedar Bay’s voluntary dismissal of the complaint. Canadian Fish was a distributor for Cedar Bay in the United States. The relationship lasted for nine years, when a dispute arose as to Cedar Bay’s pending trademark registrations, leading Cedar Bay to accuse Canadian Fish of false association and false designation of origin for Canadian Fish’s alleged misuse of Cedar Bay’s marks. Canadian Fish promptly countersued for breach of contract and declaratory judgment in Nova Scotia/ The parties mediated the disputes and came to a settlement in January, memorialized in a document titled “Settlement Agreement.” When, days later, Cedar Bay asserted that this document was merely a memorialization of potential points of agreement and not an actual agreement, Canadian Fish moved to enforce the agreement and separately moved to dismiss the complaint in the Massachusetts case. Cedar Bay initially opposed the motion, but shortly thereafter filed a notice of voluntary dismissal, leading to termination of the case by the Court. Canadian Fish, apparently angered by Cedar Bay’s attempted reneging of the agreement, sought to vacate the dismissal so that it could seek a better outcome than the compromise of the settlement agreement. Judge Gorton noted that if a plaintiff voluntarily dismisses a complaint pursuant to Rule 41(a)(1), where no answer or motion for summary judgment has been filed, the Court has no power to condition the dismissal – the plaintiff has an absolute right to dismiss. He rejected Canadian Fish’s assertion that the motion to enforce the settlement agreement was functionally equivalent to a motion for summary judgment; while the summary judgment standard is generally applied to motions to enforce settlement agreements, application of the same standard does not mean that a motion to enforce a settlement agreement is the equivalent to a motion for summary judgment, as this is clearly not contemplated by the plain language of the Rule.
The Supreme Court has resolved a Circuit split and held that willfulness is not a prerequisite to disgorgement of defendant’s profits in a trademark infringement case. Willfulness remains a factor to consider, but is no longer a threshold to obtaining profits. You can read my summary of the case on the L&A website here.
This was not the Supreme Court’s only recent foray into the IP world. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court determined that the decision of the Patent Office on the timeliness of a petition for inter partes review is not appealable. An IPR petition must be filed within one year of the service of a complaint alleging patent infringement of the subject patent. Should the PTO accept a petition that the patent holder considers to have been untimely, the patent holder has no recourse through the courts as a result of this ruling. My colleagues Craig Smith and Peter Evangelatos provide more detail here.
Also, a reminder that we at Lando & Anastasi are tracking the impact of COVID on the USPTO, prominent foreign patent offices, and the Copyright Office, as well as the impact on civil litigation in the Federal Courts of New England and the state courts of Massachusetts. You can find this information, updated as new information becomes available, here.