Justia U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Trademark

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Following a generally favorable result in the district court, Motel 6 appealed, arguing that the district court erred interpreting the Lanham Act’s anticounterfeiting penalties not to reach the use of the Motel 6 mark without permission and in failing to award prejudgment interest to Motel 6. The Third Circuit vacated as to those issues. The lower court interpreted the Lanham Act too narrowly and contrary to the weight of persuasive authority concerning treble damages under 15 U.S.C. 1117(b). On remand the court must determine whether “extenuating circumstances” exist such that treble damages would not be appropriate. While the court was not required to award prejudgment interest once it found the case exceptional for purposes of attorney’s fees and costs under Section 1117(a), it may do so after reconsidering the counterfeiting issue. View "Motel 6 Operating LP v. HI Hotel Group LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2012 Navajo Nation sued for trademark infringement, alleging that Urban Outfitters “advertised, promoted, and sold goods under the ‘Navaho’ and ‘Navajo’ names and marks” on the Internet and in retail stores “[s]ince at least March 16, 2009.” Urban Outfitters tendered the complaint to its insurers. OneBeacon provided commercial general and umbrella liability coverage to Urban Outfitters until July 7, 2010, with “personal and advertising injury” coverage. On July 7, 2010, Hanover became the responsible insurer under a “fronting policy.” On July 7, 2011 Hanover issued separate commercial general liability and umbrella liability policies to Urban Outfitters. The “fronting policy” and Hanover-issued policies excluded coverage for “personal and advertising injury” liability “arising out of oral or written publication of material whose first publication took place before the beginning of the policy period.” After providing a reservation of rights letter, informing Urban Outfitters of Hanover and OneBeacon’s joint retention of defense counsel, Hanover obtained a judicial a declaration that it was not responsible for defense or indemnification. The Third Circuit affirmed.The “prior publication” exclusion of liability insurance contracts prevents a company from obtaining ongoing insurance coverage for a continuing course of tortious conduct. Urban Outfitters engaged in similar liability-triggering behavior both before and during Hanover’s coverage period. View "Hanover Ins. Co v. Urban Outfitters Inc" on Justia Law

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Capital is a Delaware holding company, whose subsidiaries, Arrowood Indemnity and Arrowood Surplus Lines Insurance, provide insurance and investment-related financial services throughout the United States under the Arrowpoint Capital name. Capital unsuccessfully sought to enjoin AAM from using a logo or word mark employing the name “Arrowpoint” in connection with any investment-related products and services. The Third Circuit vacated and remanded, finding that the lower court employed an overly narrow interpretation of the kind of confusion that is actionable under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1114. The court .failed to hold an evidentiary hearing, or to adequately set forth its rationale for discounting Capital’s evidence, or to hear oral argument, View "Arrowpoint Capital Corp v. Arrowpoint Asset Mgmt., LLC" on Justia Law

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Dissatisfied with the settlement of a trademark case, plaintiffs filed suit on March 30, 2009 in the Superior Court of New Jersey, alleging legal malpractice and related claims. The complaint was served on one defendant on April 14, but others (law firm) were served on April 23. More than 30 days after the first defendant was served but less than 30 days after the law firm was served, the law firm filed a notice of removal. On May 22, plaintiffs filed a motion to remand the action to state court. The federal district court denied remand, finding that the removal was timely under the later-served rule. The Third Circuit affirmed. The later-served rule, under which each defendant gets his own 30-day window, represents a better reading of the language of 28 U.S.C. 1446(b) and results in more equitable treatment to later-served defendants. View "Delalla v. Hanover Ins. Co" on Justia Law

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Two multi-national distilleries have engaged in a lengthy dispute over the use of the words "Havana Club" to sell rum in the United States. Most recently the district held that defendant's use of the words on its label is not a false advertisement of the rum’s geographic origin under Section 43(a)(1)(B) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a)(1)(B). The Third Circuit affirmed, holding that no reasonable interpretation of the label as a whole, which includes a statement that it is "distilled and crafted in Puerto Rico," could lead a reasonable consumer to a false or misleading conclusion. The court declined to address whether the term is subject to trademark protection.

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The state notified a concert promoter that use of two names might violate New Jersey trademark laws. The promoter provided evidence of common law trademarks, but the state notified the hotel venue to advertise the shows as a "tribute" or "salute" to named groups. The promoter filed suit, claiming that the state's enforcement violated the federal Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125 and its civil rights. The district court entered a temporary restraining order, but the state changed its position. The court did not issue an injunction and denied attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. 1988. The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments under the "catalyst" theory and holding that the promoter was not a "prevailing party." Even the judge did not consider the TRO an enforceable judgment on the merits and the state's change of position mooted the constitutional issues.