On Wednesday, June 30th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Royal Crown Company, Inc., et. al. v. The Coca-Cola Company which vacated and remanded an earlier decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) regarding the use of “ZERO” trademarks on soft drink beverages marketed by Coca-Cola. The Federal Circuit panel, consisting of Circuit Judges Pauline Newman, Kathleen O’Malley and Richard Taranto, found that the TTAB had erred in its legal framing of the question regarding the claimed genericness of Coca-Cola’s mark and failed to determine whether the mark was at least highly descriptive if not generic.
Looking at the types of damages being awarded in trademark cases and how they’re being awarded, it’s highly likely that most damages awarded in these cases might never be recovered. “You can see it as two separate worlds of trademark cases,” Howard said. “There are cases in which a defendant doesn’t show up and it goes straight to default judgment, and then there’s everything else.” $4.6 billion dollars, or 84.6 percent of all damages awarded in district court trademark cases going back to 2009, have been awarded on default judgment.
The most active defendants in copyright lawsuits include department store chain Ross Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ:ROST), which was named as a defendant in 276 cases. Following Ross Stores are a series of retailers: TJX Companies, Inc. (NYSE:TJX), named a defendant in 123 cases; Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), a defendant in 84 cases; Burlington Coat Factory (NYSE:BURL), a defendant in 74 cases; and Rainbow USA Inc., a defendant in 66 cases. Except for Amazon, these are primarily off-price department stores offering brand name goods at discounted prices. Music publishers like Universal Music Group, Inc. (65 suits) and education publishers like Pearson Education, Inc. (NYSE:PSO) (50 suits) are also among the top defendants in copyright cases.