Arlington Specialties, Inc. v. Urban Aid, Inc.

This Lanham Act case turns on whether the shape and design of a small bag, modeled after a men’s Dopp Kit and used in personal care kits, are functional and therefore not protected as trade dress. Plaintiff sells personal care kits in such a bag. When another personal care kit seller copied plaintiff’s bag, plaintiff sued, claiming the bag was protected trade dress. The district court granted summary judgment in defendant’s favor, finding that the bag’s design and shape were functional. We agree, so we affirm the district court’s decision.

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Innovation Ventures, LLC v. N2G Distrib., Inc.

CLAY, Circuit Judge. These consolidated appeals arise from a jury trial followed by a contempt proceeding. At trial, Defendants N2G Distributing, Inc. (“N2G”) and Alpha Performance Labs were found to have infringed the trademark and trade dress of 5-hour ENERGY (“FHE”)—a product sold by Plaintiff Innovation Ventures, LLC—in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1051, et seq. The district court then held Defendants in contempt, along with their owner, Jeffrey Diehl, for violating the permanent injunction entered after trial. Defendants appeal many of the district court’s rulings, but for the reasons that follow, we AFFIRM the district court in full.

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McAirlaids, Inc. v. Kimberly-Clark Corp.

McAirlaids, Inc. filed suit against Kimberly-Clark Corp. for trade-dress infringement and unfair competition under §§ 32(1)(a) and 43(a) of the Trademark Act of 1946 (“Lanham Act”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1114(1)(a) and 1125(a), and Virginia common law. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Kimberly-Clark, and McAirlaids appeals. Because questions of fact preclude summary judgment, we vacate and remand.

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Apple, Inv. v. Samsung Elecs. Co.

Apple Inc. appeals from an order of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denying Apple’s request for a permanent injunction against Samsung Electronics Company, Ltd., Samsung Electronics America, Inc., and Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC (collectively, “Samsung”). See Apple Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co., 909 F. Supp. 2d 1147 (N.D. Cal. 2012) (“Injunction Order”). Apple sought to enjoin Samsung’s infringement of several of Apple’s design and utility patents, as well as Samsung’s dilution of Apple’s iPhone trade dress. We affirm the denial of injunctive relief with respect to Apple’s design patents and trade dress. However, we vacate the denial of injunctive relief with respect to Apple’s utility patents and remand for further proceedings.

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Groeneveld Transp. Efficiency, Inc. v. Lubecore Int'l, Inc.

RONALD LEE GILMAN, Circuit Judge. The key issue in this case is whether a company can use trade-dress law to protect its functional product design from competition with a “copycat” design made by another company where there is no reasonable likelihood that consumers would confuse the two companies’ products as emanating from a single source. We hold that it cannot. In so holding, we reaffirm that trademark law is designed to promote brand recognition, not to insulate product manufacturers from lawful competition.

Groeneveld Transport Efficiency, Inc. sued Lubecore International, Inc., claiming that Lubecore’s automotive grease pump is a “virtually identical” copy of Groeneveld’s automotive grease pump. The complaint asserts that such copying constitutes tradedress infringement in violation of § 43(a) of the Lanham (Trademark) Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a), and further violates a number of related federal and Ohio laws. All the claims except trade-dress infringement were dismissed when the district court granted Lubecore’s motion for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The trade-dress claim went to the jury, which found for Groeneveld and awarded it $1,225,000 in damages.

Lubecore appeals the denial of its Rule 50 motion with respect to the trade-dress claim. Groeneveld in turn cross-appeals from the dismissal of its other claims. For the reasons set forth below, we REVERSE the judgment of the district court denying Lubecore’s Rule 50 motion with respect to Groeneveld’s trade-dress claim, AFFIRM the district court’s dismissal of Groeneveld’s other claims, and REMAND the case with instructions to enter judgment as a matter of law in favor of Lubecore on all claims.

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