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Flexible Steel Lacing Co. v. Conveyor Accessories, Inc.

Flexible Steel Lacing Co. (“Flexco”) brought this action for trade dress infringement and unfair competition against Conveyor Accessories, Inc. (“CAI”). Flexco alleges that CAI infringed its registered and common law trade dress by promoting and selling conveyor belt fasteners with a product design that is confusingly similar to the product design of Flexco’s fasteners. In its complaint, Flexco set forth claims brought under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1114 and 1125(a), claims for common law unfair competition and trademark infringement, and a claim brought under the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, 815 ILCS 510/2.1 CAI answered the complaint and asserted counterclaims seeking cancellation of Flexco’s registered trademarks and seeking a declaratory judgment of invalidity, unenforceability, and noninfringement. CAI moved for summary judgment, contending that Flexco’s trade dress is functional and therefore invalid. Flexco moved for partial summary judgment on other grounds. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of CAI, holding that Flexco’s trade dress was functional. It de‐ nied Flexco’s motion for partial summary judgment and dismissed CAI’s remaining counterclaims as moot. Flexco filed a timely notice of appeal seeking reversal of the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of CAI with respect to one of its registered marks.

We agree with the district court’s ruling and hold that Flexco’s trade dress is invalid because it is functional. We accordingly affirm the district court’s judgment.

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