Archives: In the Courts

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A License to Kill a License? SCOTUS to Resolve Trademark Bankruptcy Split

Trademark licensing is a driving force in business relationships. One common example is where one business owns a trademark, which it licenses out to other companies who manufacture and sell the products bearing the mark. But, what happens if the trademark owner goes bankrupt? Bankruptcy law gives a debtor the right to “reject” contracts to … Continue Reading

New SCOTUS Case Could Sharpen FCC’s Teeth in the Courtroom

Earlier this month the Supreme Court granted certiorari in PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic, Inc., the resolution of which will impact the judiciary’s power to interpret agency rules. The facts underlying case appear unremarkable on their face; a health information service and publisher sent a single fax to a chiropractor’s office in … Continue Reading

Sunkist’s New Candy Packaging Is Forbidden Fruit, Welch’s Infringement Suit Says

Promotion in Motion Inc. (“PIM”) makes the popular Welch’s Fruit Snacks under a licensing deal with Welch’s, and Kervan USA LLC is a rival candymaker that has a similar licensing arrangement with Sunkist Growers Inc. PIM, however, contends that Kervan sought to capitalize on the fruits of PIM’s labors, and sued Kervan in the District … Continue Reading

NRA Is Full of Beans, Claims Sculpture Artist in Copyright Suit

The British artist Anish Kapoor, sculptor of the iconic Chicago art piece Cloud Gate, known colloquially as the Bean, filed suit against the National Rifle Association (“NRA”) for using imagery of Cloud Gate in online videos without his permission. Kapoor registered Cloud Gate with the U.S. Copyright Office in January 2016, and was “shocked and … Continue Reading

Harshing My “Vibes”: Kim Kardashian Fragrance Line Faces Trademark Infringement Suit

Kim Kardashian West’s fragrance company, KKW Fragrance LLC, is the target of a reverse confusion trademark infringement suit launched by Chicago-based mobile marketing company, Vibes Media, LLC. According to Vibes’ complaint, KKW Fragrance intentionally copied Vibes’ name and speech bubble logo in a new perfume also called “Vibes” that Kardashian launched as part of her … Continue Reading

Scientific Studies Are “SuperStarch” Kryptonite, Class Action Suit Says

Plaintiff Kevin McCann launched a putative class action against The UCAN Company (“UCAN”), which markets and distributes a line of sports performance products including “Generation UCAN SuperStarch Drink Mix,” “Generation UCAN Protein Drink Mix,” and “UCAN Snack Bars powered by SuperStarch.” The products all contain “SuperStarch,” which UCAN claims to be an easily digestible carbohydrate … Continue Reading

Shedding Unwanted Pounds and Class Actions: Jenny Craig Settles TCPA Suit for $3 Million

Last month, a Florida district court granted preliminary approval of a $3 million class action settlement brought on behalf of recipients of unwanted Jenny Craig marketing text messages. The lead plaintiff, Zoey Bloom, alleges in her complaint that Jenny Craig used an automatic telephone dialing system to transmit two text messages that advertised Jenny Craig’s … Continue Reading

Vegan Cookie Company Settles Deceptive Nutrition Label Suit For $5 Million

Vegan cookie company, Lenny & Larry’s Inc., has reached a $5 million settlement with a proposed class of consumers who accused the company of misstating the nutritional value of its “Complete Cookie.” The proposed class action plaintiffs alleged that the Complete Cookie’s label violated the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and a variety of … Continue Reading

Six Years Behind Bars: DOJ Gives Dire Warning to Online False Advertisers

The First Circuit recently affirmed the six-year sentence of Mustafa Hassan Arif, who sold bogus drugs and health products under a panoply of brands he had concocted out of Pakistan. Arif created and operated over 1,500 websites to market and sell the products, and induced unwitting purchasers in the United States and elsewhere to buy … Continue Reading

Just Fruit? Kind Faces Yet Another Class Action Lawsuit

Last month, a class-action lawsuit was filed in federal court alleging that Kind, LLC (“Kind”) deceptively advertises certain Kind bars and fruit packets. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that Kind uses images of fruit on its products, and employs fruit sounding names, when the products do not contain whole fruit (e.g., the product containing mango, apple … Continue Reading

Stung by the FTC: Aromaflage Owner Settles Mosquito Repellant Advertising Claims

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) approved a final consent order settling deceptive advertising charges against Mikey & Momo, Inc. and its owners regarding claims that its Aromaflage sprays and candles effectively repel mosquitoes, including mosquitoes that may be carrying the Zika virus and other diseases. According to the FTC’s complaint, Mikey & Momo … Continue Reading

Sport Supplement Company and Consumers Settle Deceptive Label Suit

Dietary supplement manufacturer PhD Fitness LLC (“PhD Fitness”) and a putative class of consumers have reached a settlement over claims that PhD Fitness deceptively labelled its sports supplements. The plaintiffs filed the proposed class action alleging that the marketing materials and labels on PhD Fitness’ “JYM” and “Post-JYM” supplements made false and misleading claims about … Continue Reading

The Cousteau Society Sues Jacques Cousteau’s Granddaughter for Trademark Infringement

The Cousteau Society (“TCS”) filed a lawsuit in New York federal court against Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter, Celine Cousteau, alleging trademark infringement and unfair competition under federal and New York state law. In its complaint, TCS argues that it owns all of the intellectual property associated with Jacques Cousteau – trademarks; rights of privacy, publicity, and … Continue Reading

430,000 Consumers to Receive Refund Checks from Prepaid Debit Card Company Settlement

Over 430,000 consumers, who purchased and deposited money on NetSpend Corporation (“NetSpend”) prepaid debit cards will receive refund checks from the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), totalling more than $10,000,000 as part of NetSpend’s settlement with the FTC. In November 2016, the FTC charged NetSpend with violations of the FTC Act alleging NetSpend deceptively advertised that: … Continue Reading

Facebook and Employers Are Subject to Gender Bias Employment Complaint

Several women and the Communications Workers of America have brought an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint against Facebook and 10 employers who advertise on the social network, alleging that the companies are in violation of laws prohibiting sex-based job discrimination. By allowing employers to target job ads based on gender and seek only men … Continue Reading

Potential(ly) Reach(ing): Facebook Sued Over Inflated Audience Numbers

On August 15, Danielle A. Singer and her company Project Therapy, LLC (dba Therapy Threads) filed a class-action complaint against Facebook, Inc. over its claims concerning ad audiences. According to the Complaint, Facebook overstates its audience metrics in order to induce advertisers to spend money on ads on the platform. The plaintiffs allege, in part, … Continue Reading

Commercial Co-Ventures Beware

On July 19, 2018, it was announced that Operation Troop Aid (“OTA”) entered into a settlement with multiple states, including California, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, for participating in an unlawful charitable commercial co-venture with Harris Originals of NY, Inc. (“Harris Jewelry”) a nationwide jewelry retailer for military personnel. In its simplest form, … Continue Reading

Hat Makers Marketed Made-Up “Made In America” Claims, FTC Says

In January of this year, the FTC announced its complaint against the Bollman Hat Company and its wholly-owned subsidiary, SaveAnAmericanJob, LLC, for allegedly violating its policy on “Made in the USA” claims. Bollman and its subsidiary, which sells hats under the Bollman, Bailey Western, Betmar, Country Gentleman, Eddy Bros., Helen Kaminski, Jacaru, Kaminski XY, Kangol, … Continue Reading

Trader Joe’s Candies Are Tart, But Not “Natural,” False Advertising Suit Claims

Trader Joe’s “Ts & Js Lemon Grapefruit Lime Tangerine Sour Gummies” have soured the palate of at least one consumer, according to a recently-removed Southern District of California lawsuit. Plaintiff Serena Wong, who filed her complaint against the grocery giant earlier this year, claims that the candies contain an undisclosed artificial ingredient, d-l malic acid, … Continue Reading

Battle of the Bottles: Jack Daniel’s Brings Trademark and Trade Dress Infringement Suit Against Texas Distilleries

Jack Daniel’s is fighting hard to protect its iconic, all-American image against purported copycats. The famous Tennessee whiskey brand filed a lengthy complaint against Dynasty Spirits (“Dynasty”) and Buffalo Bayou Distilleries (“Buffalo Bayou”), two Texas distilleries, alleging trademark and trade dress infringement and dilution. Dynasty is responsible for the distilling and marketing of the accused … Continue Reading

Florida Federal Judge Admonishes “Shotgun Pleading,” Grants Dismissal

A Florida federal judge chided putative class action lead plaintiff Michael Fox for what she described as “a quintessential shotgun pleading” last month and dismissed two defendants to Fox’s consumer protection lawsuit. Fox alleged violations of Florida’s consumer protection and gratuity notice laws against Loews Corp., Loews Hotels Holding Corp., MB Redevelopment LLC, and Loews … Continue Reading

A Puffed Quinoa By Any Other Name Would Still Be False Advertising

Puffed quinoa snacks presumably would contain mostly quinoa right? Not according to the putative class action lawsuit filed in a New York federal court earlier this year. Lead plaintiff Russell Ransom alleges that defendant I Heart Foods Corp.’s line of “I Heart Keenwah” puffed quinoa snacks are not, as the name implies, primarily quinoa. Rather, … Continue Reading

Got Margarine? Post Seeks Dismissal of Mashed-Potato False Labelling Suit

Briefing closed last month on Post Holdings Inc.’s attempt to dismiss a putative class action false labeling suit over Post’s prepackaged mashed potatoes, which Post claims are “made with real butter.” The plaintiffs allege that although the product does contain real butter, Post misrepresented that in fact it also contains margarine. The plaintiffs initiated suit … Continue Reading

University of Illinois Launches Suit Against “Make Illinois Great Again” Shirt Seller

The University of Illinois sued Ted O’Malley, the seller of shirts that feature the University’s former symbol, “Chief Illiniwek,” and the phrase “Make Illinois Great Again” for trademark and copyright infringement, false advertising, trademark dilution, various common law torts, and violations of Illinois consumer protection laws in March of this year. The University owns various … Continue Reading
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