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.
Earthwatch is a non-profit corporation that supports scientific research through “citizen science.” Under this approach, Earthwatch joins ordinary citizens who are concerned about environmental issues together with world-class scientists to conduct environmental surveys and research, such as tracking chimpanzees through the Ugandan forests. Earthwatch has been in existence since 1971, and has won numerous awards and achieved many scientific publications of its work. Earthwatch has operated under a number of federally-registered EARTHWATCH marks in a variety of classes, which have become incontestible. DigitalGlobe is a Colorado company that offers high-resolution satellite imagery of the globe for, among other things, environmental monitoring. Among the products offered by DigitalGlobe is a customizable subscription service under the name “EARTHWATCH.” Earthwatch asserts that DigitalGlobe is thereby infringing its trademarks under both federal and common law, and moreover that the infringement is willful – DigitalGlobe initially operated as “EarthWatch Incorporated,” and changed its corporate name after a cease and desist demand from Earthwatch. In addition to the trademark counts, Earthwatch asserts violation of Ch. 93A. Earthwatch has been a client of my firm, Lando & Anastasi, for many years, and the case was filed by my colleagues Nate Harris and Peter Lando. The case is before Judge Woodlock.
Ecobee filed three trademark suits, accusing Filter Pro, The Corner Store, and Ultra Design of trademark infringement, unfair competition, false designation of origin, and tortious interference. Ecobee makes smart home control products, including light switches and thermostats, that it sells through authorized resellers who are contractually obliged to provide specific quality controls on the products sold and prevented from selling to subsequent, unauthorized resellers. Each of the defendants is an Amazon Seller Account that, despite not being ecobee authorized resellers, are alleged to have sold ecobee products. Ecobee asserts that the defendants could only have obtained ecobee inventory through knowingly soliciting authorized resellers, intentional and knowing interference with the resellers contracts and business relationships with ecobee, or through fraudulent or illicit means. They further assert that the defendants violate the ECOBEE trademark by selling actual ecobee goods without authorization. The cases are presently before Judges Stearn, Woodlock, and Saris.
In a sibling rivalry gone wrong, American Chair accuses Restaurant Seating and Stephen DiStasio of copyright and trademark infringement, palming off, and violation of M.G.L. 93A in connection with Restaurant Seating’s alleged use of American Chair’s copyrighted photographs, trademarks, and trade dress to steer business from the former to the latter. Prior to forming Restaurant Seating, Stephen DiStasio worked for American Chair under the supervision of his brother and American Chair’s President, Michael DiStasio. Restaurant Seating is accused of using American Chair’s copyrighted photographs on its website, using confusingly similar slogans to those registered by American Chair (e.g., “We build furniture to last the life of your concept” versus American’s registered “Furniture built to last the life of your concept”), and passing off American Chair products as if they were Restaurant Seating’s offerings, including in at least one instance hiring a manufacturer to knock off an American design that had been used to sell to a Salem, MA restaurant. American Chair seeks temporary, preliminary, and permanent injunctive relief in addition to damages and attorneys fees. The case is before Judge Woodlock.
MAP Royalty accuses MAP Energy Solutions (“MES”) of infringing its registered MAP and stylized MAP marks, as well as common law rights in the mark, in connection with investment and management of energy projects, including renewable energy projects such as solar and wind power. MAP Royalty asserts that it manages over $2 billion in capital energy commitments, and has been using the marks since 1998. It says that MES formed in 2015, and began using the MAP trademark shortly thereafter, both as a mark and as a part of its domain names, in connection with directly competing and closely related services. The case is before Judge Woodlock.