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Fortres Grand Corp. v. Warner Bros. Entm't, Inc.

MANION, Circuit Judge. Fortres Grand Corporationdeve lops and sells a desktop management program called “Clean Slate.” When Warner Bros. Entertainment used the words “the clean slate” to describe a hacking program in the movie, The Dark Knight Rises, Fortres Grand noticed a precipitous drop in sales of its software. Believing Warner Bros.’ use of the words “clean slate” infringed its trademark and caused the decrease in sales, Fortres Grand brought this suit. Fortres Grand alleged that Warner Bros.’ use of the words “clean slate” could cause consumers to be confused about the source of Warner Bros.’ movie (“traditional confusion”) and to be confused about the source of Fortres Grand’s software (“reverse confusion”). The district court held that Fortres Grand failed to state a claim under either theory, and that Warner Bros.’ use of the words “clean slate” was protected by the First Amendment. Fortres Grand appeals, arguing only its reverse confusion theory, and we affirm without reaching the constitutional question.

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