The Georgia IP Litigation Blog monitors patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret cases pending in Georgia federal district courts and in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta. The blog alerts readers to initiation of such cases in the district courts and summarizes relevant orders and opinions from each covered court.
The Northern District of Georgia is the forum for several new trademark and copyright disputes, which are summarized below:
Huddle House trademark case removed from Georgia Superior Court
On September 17, 2012, defendants Two Views, Inc., John Bartholomew, and Elizabeth Bartholomew (collectively, “Two Views”), all of Caswell Beach, North Carolina, filed a Notice of Removal based upon federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1331, 28 U.S.C. 1338, and 28 U.S.C. 1441, and diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1332. Plaintiff Huddle House, Inc. filed the underlying action in Cobb County Superior Court on August 9, 2012, alleging that Two Views continued to use certain Huddle House trademarks and other proprietary information following the termination of a franchise agreement between Huddle House and Two Views. The “franchise agreement gone bad” type of case has shown up in Georgia court several times in the last few weeks (see our prior posts here and here). The Huddle House complaint included a petition for an interlocutory (preliminary) injunction and temporary restraining order against Two Views, which will now be pending before the district court.
The case is Huddle House, Inc. v. Two Views, Inc. et al., No. 1:12-cv-3239-RWS, United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, and has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story.
Qantas Airways hit with copyright suit
On September 19, 2012, Lyndum, LLC of Atlanta filed a complaint against Qantas Airways Limited (“Qantas”) of Australia alleging infringement of a copyright in original artwork for gift boxes and promotional items. According to the complaint, in the early 1990s an artist created artwork on a “work for hire” basis entitled “Koala Meal Box/Gift Pack,” which was then incorporated on meal boxes cut in the shape of the animal depicted (similar to a Happy Meal box). Lyndum alleges that the original work was properly registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, and Lyndum later received title to the copyrighted work. The complaint alleges that Qantas created promotional boxes identical to the original meal boxes but with the Qantas logo affixed to the box. Lyndum further alleges that Qantas failed to even remove the copyright notice on the bottom of the box. As a result, Lyndum asks the Court to find Qantas’ alleged infringement willful and to award damages, attorney’s fees, and costs.
The case is Lyndum LLC v. Qantas Airways Limited, No. 1:12-cv-3278-WSD, United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, and has been assigned to U.S. District Judge William S. Duffey, Jr.
American Airlines sues Atlanta taxi company for trademark infringement
On September 26, 2012, American Airlines, Inc. (“American”), a Delaware corporation based in Fort Worth, Texas, filed a complaint in the Northern District of Georgia against Joseph Marquez dba American Eagle Taxi Lines (“Marquez”) of Norcross, Georgia, asserting claims for trademark infringement and unfair competition under the Lanham Act, unfair competition and unfair and deceptive trade practices under Georgia law, and trademark infringement and unfair competition under Georgia common law.
American claims that Marquez operates a taxi company under the name American Eagle Taxi Lines, which is promoted using trademarks either similar or nearly identical to American’s federally registered marks. The following are examples from the complaint of American’s registered marks in comparison to the marks used by Marquez:
American Airlines marks
American Eagle Taxi marks
American claims that it reached out to Marquez on several occasions to notify him of the infringement but received no response. American asserts that Marquez’s use of such confusingly similar marks in connection with transportation services is likely to cause confusion or to deceive the relevant public as to the source of the services or to suggest an affiliation between the two parties. American asks the court to preliminarily and permanently enjoin Marquez from further use of the marks, to order the delivery and destruction of all allegedly infringing items, and to award damages, attorney’s fees, and costs to American.
The case is American Airlines, Inc. v. Marquez, No. 1:12-cv-3364-TCB, United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, and has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr.
Church of God-Holiness files suit against former member
On September 28, 2012, Plaintiffs James C. Taylor and Carter T. Peek, dba The National Convention of the Churches of God-Holiness, USA (“Church of God-Holiness”) filed suit against Timothy Merritt of Stone Mountain, Georgia, alleging that Merritt is operating a website that falsely claims to be associated with the Church of God-Holiness. Plaintiffs asserts causes of action for unfair competition under the Lanham Act, and fraud and unfair and deceptive trade practices under Georgia law.
Church of God-Holiness claims that both “Church of God Holiness” and “The National Convention of the Churches of God-Holiness, USA” are distinctive marks that have acquired secondary meaning among the public. Neither mark has been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. According to the complaint, Merritt was a one-time member of the Church of God-Holiness in Georgia, and since has left and started his own religious movement called “Seeking the Truth Ministry.” He operates a website titled “National Convention of The Churches of God Holiness, USA,” with domain name http://nationalconventionofthechurchesofgodholinessinfo.com. Church of God Holiness claims that the title and the URL are identical to its marks and thus mislead the public into believing that Merritt is associated with it. Church of God-Holiness asks the court to preliminarily and permanently enjoin Merritt from further infringement and to order that the website be deactivated and all infringing items recalled. Church of God-Holiness further asks for the court to award damages, attorney’s fees, and costs.
The case is Taylor et al. v. Merritt, No. 1:12-cv-3391-AT, United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, and has been assigned to U.S.District Judge Amy Totenberg.