Blehm v. Jacobs
702 F.3D 1193 (10th Cir. 2012)
By Sydney Archibald
Plaintiff Gary Blehm developed the “Penmen” characters in the 1980s. Penmen are simple figure-drawings characterized by a lack of clothing; thick-lined bodies; large feet; disproportionately long legs; four fingers on each hand; round, solid heads; and white, half-moon smiles engaged in everyday activities. Mr. Blehm also developed specific guidelines for drawing each Penmen figure that covered a range of traits, from head shape and limb length to perspective and use of negative space. Between 1989 and 1993, Mr. Blehm created and copyrighted posters featuring hundreds of Penmen in different poses. The posters were marketed as a visual game that challenges the viewer to “Find the Two Identical Penmen.” Between 1990 and 2004, Mr. Blehm sold his posters nationally through various distributors. Mr. Blehm eventually expanded his market to include Penmen shirts, a Penmen comic strip syndicated by newspapers, and a Penmen book.
Hall v. Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc.
453 Fed. Appx. 970 (Fed. Cir. 2011)
By George Gutierrez
Defendant Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc. (“BB&B”), is a well-known home furnishing retailer. The plaintiff, Roger J. Hall, is an inventor of a unique gym towel, the “Tote Towel,” which features “binding around all the edges, zippered pockets at both ends, and an angled cloth loop in the middle.” Hall met with the defendants, while the Tote Towel design patent was still pending, to discuss the possibility of having the Tote Towel sold in the BB&B stores. Without Hall’s permission, BB&B subsequently contacted West Point Home, Inc., one of its suppliers, to have copies of the Tote Towel manufactured for retail sale in its stores. After Hall’s patent had been issued, he filed suit against BB&B, West Point Home, Inc., and an executive of BB&B for patent infringement, unfair competition under § 43(a) of the Lanham Act, and misappropriation under New York statutory and common law. BB&B responded by moving to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) 12(b)(6) for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,” and filed counterclaims for Rule 11 sanctions, false advertising, false marking, and attorneys fees.
Already, LLC v. Nike, Inc.
133 S. Ct. 721 (2013)
By Melissa Hong
Appellant, Already, LLC (“Already”), and Respondent, Nike, Inc. (“Nike”), are competitors who are both in the business of designing, manufacturing, and selling athletic footwear. Alleging that Already’s “Soulja Boys” and “Sugars” shoe lines infringed on the trademark of Nike’s Air Force 1 shoe line, Nike ordered Already to cease and desist the sale of those shoes. After Already refused, Nike filed a claim in federal court contending that the “Soulja Boys” and “Sugars” shoe lines infringed and diluted Nike’s Air Force 1 line. Already denied these charges and filed a counterclaim challenging the validity of the Air Force 1 trademark.
Soverain Software LLC v. Newegg Inc.
705 F.3D 1333 (Fed. Cir. 2013)
By Sarah K. Lee
Defendant Newegg Inc. (“Newegg”) is an electronic commerce company that sells computer software and hardware online. Newegg allows its purchasers to utilize a digital shopping cart to create, modify and complete purchase transactions through a series of system requests and receipts sent through an interconnected network. Plaintiff Soverain Software LLC (“Soverain”) is a software patent holding company. In 2001, Soverain acquired ownership and patents of a software system called “Transact,” previously owned by Open Market, Inc., which similarly utilizes an electronic commerce system to facilitate online purchases. After acquiring Transact, Soverain subsequently brought suit for patent infringement stemming from the Transact system against seven electronic commerce companies, including Newegg. Six of those companies settled for paid-up licenses to the patents, leaving Newegg as the sole defendant in this suit.
Sunbeam Products, Inc. v. Chicago American Manufacturing, LLC
686 F.3D 372 (7th Cir. 2012)
By Benjamin Robertson
Plintiff Sunbeam Products, Inc. (“Sunbeam”), doing business as Jarden Consumer Solutions (“Jarden”) is a producer of many small household appliances such as blenders, toasters, and box fans. Sunbeam manufactures these appliances for sale throughout the United States. Defendant Chicago American Manufacturing, LLC (“CAM”), is a manufacturing company that produces a wide range of products. Many outside companies contract with CAM for production of these products as a more cost-efficient way of manufacturing.
Christian Louboutin S.A. v. Yves Saint Laurent American Holdings
696 F.3D 206 (2D Cir. 2012)
By Raymond Rollan
Plaintiff Christian Louboutin (“Louboutin”) is a well-known fashion house selling women’s high fashion footwear. Since 1992, Louboutin’s shoes, which are characterized by “a bright, lacquered red outsole, which nearly always contrasts sharply with the color of the rest of the shoe,” have grown in popularity in the media and social circles. In fact, due to Louboutin’s substantial investment in building and protecting its reputation, good will, and exclusive ownership of its signature mark, those in the fashion industry have come to associate the “flash of a red sole” with Louboutin’s work. On March 27, 2007, Louboutin filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office to protect its “Red Sole Mark,” and in 2008 was granted trademark protection for a mark consisting of “lacquered red sole on footwear,” with the color red being a claimed feature of the mark.