Archives: In the Courts

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Celebrity Chef Sued By Certification Organization Over “Gluten-Free” Labelling

Last month, gluten intolerance advocacy group Gluten Intolerance Group (“GIG”) sued celebrity chef Jamie Oliver for trademark infringement and unfair business practices under the Lanham Act and state consumer protection laws in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. According to the complaint, GIG is an independent organization that certifies food producers … Continue Reading

Chipped Away: Frito-Lay Removes “All Natural” Label from Products Containing GMOs

The plaintiffs in a five year old consumer class action against Frito-Lay North America and its parent company PepsiCo, Inc. got their wish earlier this month when Frito-Lay agreed to remove the “All Natural” label from its products containing genetically modified organisms (“GMOs”). In July 2012, a proposed class of consumers who purchased Tostitos tortilla … Continue Reading

SCOTUS Denies Review of Indiana Anti-Robocall Law

The U.S. Supreme Court denied nonprofit Patriotic Veterans, Inc.’s petition for review of Indiana’s ban on the use of technology that automatically dials residential phone numbers and plays prerecorded messages. Patriotic Veterans, based in Illinois, uses this “robocall” technology to disseminate pre-recorded messages about political candidates’ positions on issues affecting veterans.  In 2010, however, the … Continue Reading

Ka-pow! 9th Circuit Finds Social Media Gag Order Unconstitutional in COMIC CON Trademark Dispute

In a previous post, we analyzed the battle over the trademark COMIC CON, which is owned by the San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC) but has been used by over 100 other comic book convention organizers.  SDCC brought suit against one of these alleged infringers, Dan Farr Productions, in 2014, but failed to secure summary judgment … Continue Reading

Florida Supreme Court Denies Copyright Protection for Sound Recordings Predating Coverage Under the Federal Copyright Act

In a major victory for media and broadcast entities, the Supreme Court of Florida recently established that Florida law does not recognize exclusive copyright protections for sound recordings that were “fixed” before February 15, 1972. Sound recordings fixed after this date are governed by federal copyright law. This decision arose out of a copyright infringement … Continue Reading

Quaker Oats Succeeds in Maple Syrup Suit

The Central District of California granted Quaker Oats Company’s Motion to Dismiss a Consolidated Class Action Complaint on October 10. Plaintiffs alleged Quaker Oats Company was liable for labeling its “Maple & Brown Sugar”-flavored instant oatmeal as “Quaker Instant Oatmeal, Maple & Brown Sugar” alongside an image of a pitcher of maple syrup.  The plaintiffs … Continue Reading

U.S. District Court Sanctions Weight-Loss Supplement Marketers for Violating Past Court Order

A judge in the Northern District of Georgia has found a number of defendants, comprising a larger company named Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Hi-Tech”), in contempt for repeated violations of court orders prohibiting the defendants from making deceptive marketing claims about weight-loss supplements and erectile dysfunction products. As a result of the order, Hi-Tech is required … Continue Reading

Arrgh! Social Media Post Lands “Pirate Joe’s” in Hot Water

In the highly-publicized case about unauthorized reselling of Trader Joe’s merchandise by renegade Canadian merchant “Pirate Joe’s,” social media provided the powder keg for Trader Joe’s arbitration enforcement demand. The case set sail in May 2013, when Trader Joe’s sued Pirate Joe’s proprietor Michael Hallatt for federal trademark infringement and violations of Washington state consumer … Continue Reading

Cracking Open a Cold One: Plaintiffs’ False Advertising Suit Against Brewer Survives Dismissal

Earlier this year, two plaintiffs launched a putative class action against Portland-based Craft Brew Alliance, the fifth largest brewing company in the U.S. and parent company of Kona Brewing Co. Craft Brew acquired Kona in 2010, emblazoning its bottles and cans with images and text that conjure Hawaii’s scenery and lifestyle.  There’s just one issue:  … Continue Reading

Judge Agrees – YouTube Mockery Protected by Fair Use

Readers may be aware of YouTube celebrity couple Ethan and Hila Klein, better known by their social media moniker @h3h3productions. They rose to Internet fame producing comedic “reaction” videos that ridicule and comment upon other Internet content, boasting 4.9 million subscribers on their YouTube channel.  Not everyone laughed along though, particularly fellow YouTuber Matt Hosseinzadeh, … Continue Reading

Gatorade Agrees to Stop Hating On Water

Gatorade recently handed $300,000 to California to settle false advertising and unfair competition claims that boil down to making water look bad. The company released an app in 2012 called “Bolt!” that featured an animation of Jamaican Olympic gold medalist, Usain Bolt, racing to recapture gold coins from pirates. Gatorade icons boosted performance and water … Continue Reading

Delta Airlines Uses RICO Statutes To Enforce Trademark Rights Against Counterfeit Pet Transit

Delta Airlines, Inc. (“Delta”) sued a handful of defendants in Federal court last week over a pet shipment website that appears to be affiliated with the company. Delta is seeking an injunction and damages against John Doe defendants. The complaint alleges federal trademark infringement and counterfeiting, wire fraud, unfair competition, tarnishment of a famous mark … Continue Reading

“Local” is a Claim Requiring Substantiation in False Advertising Action

U.S. District Court in Utah decided an interesting case involving whether an advertiser can use the word “local” in Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc. v. Leland Sycamore et al.  Defendant Leland Sycamore had invented the trade secret process and formula for making “Grandma Sycamore’s Home-Maid Bread.”  After securing trademark registration for the bread packaging design, Leland … Continue Reading

Policing Your Registrations is No Joke, COMIC CON Trademark Dispute Shows

The San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC) and the proprietors of Utah’s “Salt Lake Comic Con” sparred recently in summary judgment arguments over the SDCC’s COMIC CON trademark. The SDCC owns four registrations for COMIC CON, and claims that Dan Farr Productions and other defendants infringed those trademarks by capitalizing upon the fame and goodwill of … Continue Reading

Coffee Subscription Lawsuit Involving Negative Option Contracts a Wake-up Call for Online Sellers

Earlier this year, coffee chain Peet’s Coffee & Tea LLC was sued by a putative class comprised of all California customers who purchased subscriptions of coffee and tea from the company after February 2013. The class alleged that Peet’s Coffee violates California’s Automatic Renewal Law (“ARL”) and Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) by automatically charging customers’ … Continue Reading

Coachella Sues “Filmchella” for Trademark Infringement

Coachella Music Festival LLC, the organization behind the popular desert-based Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, filed a trademark infringement lawsuit earlier this month against the organizers of “Filmchella” arguing that the name is confusingly similar to “Coachella”. According to the complaint, Filmchella, like Coachella, is an event held in Southern California, and features a … Continue Reading

Bebe Stores Settles TCPA Class Action

Last month, women’s fashion retailer Bebe Stores, Inc. agreed to settle a proposed class action over purported violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), which alleged that the retailer sent unwanted spam texts through an automatic telephone dialing system. According to court records, Bebe’s financial condition was a substantial factor in the parties’ considerations … Continue Reading

Jewelry Company Sues Macy’s for Copyright Infringement

California-based jewelry company Brighton Collectibles LLC (“Brighton”) filed suit against Macy’s Inc. (“Macy’s”) for copyright infringement. According to the complaint, Brighton alleges that Macy’s infringed copyrighted designs for Brighton’s Reno heart bracelet and necklace products. Brighton alleges that Macy’s damaged its brand, reputation and goodwill by continuing to sell the alleged copies, despite receiving a … Continue Reading

SoulCycle Settles Gift Card Lawsuit For Up To $9.2 Million

Popular indoor cycling company SoulCycle Inc. recently settled a nationwide putative class action in an agreement valued between $6.9 million and $9.2 million. The suit alleged that SoulCycle defrauded customers by selling gift certificates with expiration dates (and keeping the expiring, unused balances), in violation of state and Federal law. According to the complaint, SoulCycle … Continue Reading

SCOTUS Grants Review of Federal Ban on Sports Gambling

In one of its final acts of the October 2016 term, the Supreme Court of the United States recently agreed to hear a New Jersey challenge to the constitutionality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PAPSA”), a federal statute banning states from authorizing and regulating gambling on sporting events.[1] As we reported earlier … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Concludes No First Amendment Issue with California Ban on Paid in-Store Alcohol Advertisements

Last month, the Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, upheld a California “tied house” law prohibiting manufacturers and wholesalers from providing anything of value to retailers in exchange for advertising their alcohol products. Retail Digital Network, LLC, (“RDN”) an advertising agency that placed advertisements in wine and spirit retail stores, alleged that alcohol manufacturers and wholesalers … Continue Reading

Sugarfina Sues Candy Competitor for Trademark Infringement

Sugarfina Inc. (“Sugarfina”), a high-end candy retailer, recently filed suit against competitor Sweet Pete’s LLC (“Sweet Pete’s”) alleging copyright, trademark, and trade dress infringement of its products and packaging. Sugarfina considers itself a candy retailer known for its unique and luxurious products. The complaint alleges that Sweet Pete’s uses several design elements of Sugarfina’s distinctive … Continue Reading

Bob Marley’s Estate Wins $2.4 Million in Trademark Lawsuit

A federal district court ruled last week that Fifty-Six Hope Road Music Ltd. and Hope Road Merchandising, LLC, companies controlled by family members of late musician Bob Marley (collectively the “Marley Companies”), will receive $2.4 million in damages for trademark infringement from Jammin Java Corp., a California-based coffee company founded by one of Marley’s sons. … Continue Reading
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