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The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Southern District Court of New York in Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. My Other Bag, Inc., a trademark infringement case in which summary judgment was granted to defendant My Other Bag (MOB) on the basis that their product – a cheap canvas bag that features a cartoonish depiction of plaintiff Louis Vuitton’s (LV) marks – satisfies the elements of a parody defense and is therefore unlikely to cause confusion despite surface-level similarities…. The outcome of the case in favor of the defendant represents a big win for defendants making use of the parody defense to target a famous trademark-holder.
On August 8, 2016, plaintiff became aware of defendant’s unauthorized use of the Marilyn Monroe marks and likeness and sent a cease and desist letter. Defendant continued with their allegedly unauthorized activities, leading to the filing of the complaint that starts this legal dispute. It is worth noting, however, that the defendant did not use the name Marilyn Monroe in any of its marketing, packaging, or other branding. Any association to Marilyn Monroe is based solely on defendant’s use of her visual likeness.
For patent holders in design patent infringement cases, having multiple component design patents for any given product will help maximize the potential damage award. A multiple design patent strategy is now more important than ever. Given the ease with which design patents are obtained and the relative inexpensive cost associated with obtaining a design patent (at least when compared to the cost of obtaining a utility patent) innovators who must rely on design patent protection will almost certainly need to more strategically acquire design patents as part of a truly robust design patent portfolio building strategy.
Trademark injunctions must take into account both online promotion and future expansion plans. A narrowly-tailored geographically limited injunction can be particularly damaging to growing businesses if the business is forced to accept trademark confusion in the event of future expansion. The geographic scope of a trademark injunction should, therefore, carefully take into consideration the total services, activities, and growth plans of the successful plaintiff’s business endeavors.
On October 5, 2016, a jury in Tiffany and Co. v. Costco Wholesale Corp. – litigated before Judge Swain of the Southern District Court of New York – awarded Tiffany & Co. (Tiffany) $8.25 million in punitive damages for willful and bad faith infringement of their trademark by defendant Costco Wholesale Corp. (Costco). This award, in combination with an earlier award of $5.5 million in profits and statutory damages, brings the total damages owed by Costco to $13.75 million. The case is particularly notable for several reasons, but specifically because punitive damages were awarded.
According to the company, Apple’s method utilizes a solid-state air mover using “corona discharge—an electrical discharge near a charged conductor caused by the ionization of the surrounding air.” This is made of one corona electrode, one collector electrode, and a high voltage power supply. An electric field is created when voltage is applied to electrodes; the electric field causes surrounding particles to become ionized (charged). The electric field “spreads” a charge toward the collector electrode, and the charge continues to spread and create air movement en masse.