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Georgia IP Litigation: December 2013

BLOGS: Georgia IP Litigation

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013, 3:16 PM

Recent Copyright Cases Filed in Georgia

The following is a summary of recent copyright suits filed in Georgia:

BWP Media Alleges Copyright Violations in Complaint Against Sandra Rose

On December 13, 2013, BWP Media USA Inc. of Los Angeles, California (doing business as Pacific Coast News, hereinafter “BWP,” or “plaintiff(s)”), filed a complaint against Sandra Rose, LLC, of Atlanta, Georgia (hereinafter “Sandra Rose” or “defendant(s)”), alleging direct, contributory, and vicarious copyright infringement as well as inducement of copyright infringement.
According to their complaint, BWP owns a multitude of photographs which they license to online and print publications and has several active and valid copyright registrations with the United States Copyright Office.  In their complaint, the plaintiff alleges the defendants copied, modified, and/or displayed plaintiff’s protected photographs on their website(s) without permission from the plaintiff, including three protected images associated with copyright registration numbers VA0001860075, VA0001836246, and VA0001875918.
The case is BWP Media USA Inc. v. Sandra Rose, LLC., Case No. 1:13-cv-04130-AT in the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, and is assigned to The Honorable Judge Amy Totenburg.

Grandparent Gifts Alleges Copyright Violations in Complaint Against Ganz USA

On December 9, 2013, Grandparent Gift Co. of Alpharetta, Georgia (“Grandparent Gift”) filed a complaint alleging copyright infringement and unfair competition under Georgia’s Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (O.C.G.A. § 10-1-370 et seq.) and under Georgia Common Law against defendant Ganz USA (“Ganz”).  Ganz is headquartered in Toronto, Canada, with a principal place of business in Marietta, Georgia.
Both companies are known for selling gift items online.  Specifically, at issue in their complaint, Grandparent Gift sells a particular line of pet memorial products that feature poignant words commemorating a lost pet.  Defendant Ganz is most well known for their web-enabled toy and kids’ virtual world products Webkinz® pets and Webkinz World™.  Ganz’ corporate headquarters are located in Toronto, Canada, with U.S. offices in Atlanta and Los Angeles, and overseas offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
In their complaint, Grandparent Gift alleges Ganz copied the first fourteen out of sixteen lines of a poem entitled “Pawprints Left By You,” by Teri Harrison.  Ms. Harrison obtained a copyright registration for the poem (Registration No. TX 7-373- 961) and assigned her rights to the poem to Grandparent Gift on December 5, 2013.  The poem is used on a variety of Grandparent’s memorial plaques, ornaments, picture frames and other similar products.
The case is The Grandparent Gift Co., Inc. v. Ganz U.S.A., LLC. Case No. 1:13-cv-04066-WBH in the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, and is assigned to The Honorable Judge Willis B. Hunt, Jr.

Lacefield Designs, Inc. Alleges Copyright Violations in Complaint Against Coaster Company of America, Lowe's, National Furniture and Ten John Doe Corporations

On November 11, 2013 Lacefield Designs, Inc. (“Lacefield”) of Smyrna, Georgia filed a complaint alleging copyright infringement under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1338(a) against Defendants COA, Inc., doing business as Coaster Co. of America (“Coaster”),  Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (“Lowe’s”), NationalFurniture Supply LLC (“National Furniture”), and John Doe Corporations 1-10.  Coaster is a California corporation with its principal place of business at Santa Fe Springs, California and with a branch in College Park, Georgia; Lowe’s is a North Carolina corporation with its principal place of business at Mooresville, North Carolina; and National Furniture is a Georgia limited liability company with a place of business in Atlanta, Georgia.
Lacefield is in the business of designing and selling textiles and a wide variety of home décor
products. Coaster is engaged in the business of manufacturing and/or selling furniture. Lowe’s is a home improvement retailer and owns and/or operates various websites, including the www.beddingsheetsandlinens.com website that is part of its ATG Stores division.  National Furniture is in the business of selling furniture, including through the website www.nationalfurnituresupply.com.  John Doe Corporations 1-10 are companies who are yet unidentified by Lacefield but have allegedly infringed Lacefield’s copyright by selling infringing goods, in this case allegedly manufactured and/or distributed by Coaster.
According to the complaint, Lacefield owns rights in a fabric design they created as a work made for hire in 2009.  Lacefield states the design is an original creation based upon the selection, arrangement, and coordination of portions of antique documents acquired by Lacefield, and it constitutes copyrightable subject matter under the Copyright Act.  Lacefield duly registered the copyright in the design (Registration no. VA 1-756-774).  Lacefield alleges Defendant Coaster has infringed Lacefield’s copyright in the design by manufacturing, importing, selling, offering for sale, advertising, promoting, and/or distributing products, including chairs, ottoman, cabinets and pillows bearing a design copied from and substantially similar to the copyrighted design without authorization from Lacefield.  Lacefield also alleges Defendants Lowe’s, National Furniture, and John Doe Corporations 1-10 infringed Lacefield’s copyright in the design by selling, offering for sale, advertising, promoting and/or distributing the allegedly infringing products made by Coaster without authorization from Lacefield.
The case is Lacefield Designs, Inc. v. COA, Inc. et al Case No. 1:13-cv-03747-RLV in the United States District Court For the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, and is assigned to The Honorable Judge Robert L. Vining, Jr.

Tim Shobe Alleges Copyright Violations in Complaint Against CJI Group

On October 17, 2013 Tim Shobe (“Shobe”) of Sitka County, Alaska filed a complaint against Defendants CJI Group (“CJI”), LTD of Dekalb County, Georgia alleging direct, contributory, and vicarious copyright infringement as well as inducement of copyright infringement.
According to the complaint, Shobe owns a multitude of photographs which he licenses to online and print publications and has invested significant time and money in building his photographic portfolio. 
Also according to the complaint, CJI owns and operates a website known as www.baconbabble.com and, knowingly and without permission from Shobe, copied, modified, and/or displayed copyright protected photographs owned by Shobe.  Specifically, the complaint seeks to enforce Shobe’s rights to a copyrighted photograph entitled “Kayaker nearly swallowed by a whale” (registration no. VA0001706606) over an alleged infringing use of the image on CJI’s website.
The case is Shobe v. CJI Group, Ltd. Case No. 1:13-cv-03442-RLV in the United States District Court For the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, and is assigned to The Honorable Judge Robert L. Vining, Jr..

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Thursday, December 19, 2013, 11:22 AM

Recent Trademark Cases Filed in Georgia

The following is a summary of recent trademark suits filed in the Georgia district courts:

The Trade Secrets of Logistics

Warehouse Solutions, Inc. ("WSI") of Rochelle Park, New Jersey, filed suit against Platinum Circle Technologies, LLC, Platinum Circle Holdings, LLC, James Hamilton, Gregory Philman, Lamar Whitley, all of Alpharetta, Georgia, and unnamed John Does 1-10 (collectively, "Defendants"), alleging misappropriation of trade secrets relating to its software for "logistically tracking millions of packages, analyzing tracking data, and providing various reports relating to lost or delayed packages and refunds owed to the customer by the carrier."  WSI claims that it has audited or provided its software and services to the largest US carriers, including FedEx, UPS, and DHL, and has consistently taken steps to protect access to its proprietary trade secrets and information.  WSI claims that some individuals that performed various sales and marketing functions for WSI absconded with the protected information, and have used the information to create a competitive program that "looks almost identical and functions almost identically to WSI's."

WSI asserts claims of misappropriation of trade secrets under O.C.G.A. § 10-1-670 et seq., false designation of origin under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a), unjust enrichment, conversion, and other related claims, and seeks compensatory damages in excess of $5,000,000, as well as punitive damages, costs, and attorneys' fees. The case is Warehouse Solutions, Inc. v. Platinum Circle Techs. et al., No. 1:13-cv-03355-TCB (N.D. Ga. Oct. 8, 2013), and is assigned to Judge Timothy C. Batten.

Trade Dress Rights in Desktop Calendars and Planners?

International Greetings USA, Inc. d/b/a The Gift Wrap Company ("Gift Wrap") filed suit against Orange Circle Studio Corporation ("Orange Circle"), asking for a declaratory judgment that Gift Wrap does not infringe Orange Circle's trade dress under the Lanham Act.  Both companies design and manufacture, among other things, consumer goods, including calendars and planners.  Orange Circle sent a cease and desist letter to Gift Wrap alleging that Gift Wrap's "IG58265 - Planner" and "IG58266 - Desk Pad Calendar" infringes protectable trade dress of Orange Circle's "Weekly Desk Pad" and "Jotter Planner."  Gift Wrap filed this declaratory judgment action in response, asking for the Court to declare that Orange Circle does not possess any protectable trade dress rights and that there is no likelihood of confusion between Orange Circle's and Gift Wrap's calendars and planners.

The case is International Greetings USA, Inc. v. Orange Circle Studio Corp., No. 1:13-cv-03374-SCJ (N.D. Ga. Oct. 10, 2013), and is assigned to Judge Steve C. Jones.

Cybersquatting and Firearms

Mark Kresser, CEO of firearms manufacturer Taurus International Manufacturing, Inc. ("Taurus"), filed suit against Strategic Source Media, LLC and Ralph Buck, both of Alpharetta, Georgia, alleging that the Defendants had improperly obtained the domain name www.markkresser.com and used it to market to Taurus' competitors, including Glock, Inc., Smith & Wesson, and others.  The Complaint stated claims for violation of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act under 15 U.S.C. § 8131, violation of Cyberpiracy Prevention under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d), RICO violations under 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c), false designation of origin under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a), and other related state claims.

The website in dispute is now inactive.  WhoIs.net indicates that the domain name has now been transferred to Kresser's legal counsel, so it appears that this action has been resolved, though there have been no filings since the original complaint.  The case is Kresser v. Strategic Source Media, LLC et al., No. 1:13-cv-03367-AT (N.D. Ga. Oct. 10, 2013), and is assigned to Judge Amy Totenberg.

Delta Air Lines Takes On Mail Scam Artists

You may have received a recent letter from a party holding itself out as Delta Air Lines, offering you various promotions and SkyMiles rewards offers.  The fraudulent letters, bearing Delta's trademarks and other identifying information, have been flooding US mailboxes over the past few months, as reported by various news outlets.  Delta took affirmative steps to put an end to it by filing a complaint in the Northern District of Georgia against unspecified John Does 1-50, alleging federal trademark infringement, dilution, tarnishment, unfair competition, federal and state RICO violations, and other related claims.  Delta followed up with a motion to conduct third party "John Doe" discovery, which included subpoenas to phone companies, web hosts, and locations of mail box rentals.  The Court granted this motion, and Delta commenced investigating and uncovering the identities of the individuals involved in the scheme.

On December 9, 2013, Delta filed an Ex Parte Motion to Seal (a) Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint for Injunction and Damages, and (b) Plaintiff's Ex Parte Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction, Ex Parte Seizure Order, and Expedited Discovery and Memorandum of Fact and Law in Support Thereof.  The Court granted the motion on the same day, and Delta followed up with confidential motion papers, and a hearing has been set for today, December 19, 2013, before Judge Batten.

The case is Delta Air Lines, Inc. v. Does 1-50, No. 1:13-cv-03388-TCB (N.D. Ga. Oct. 11, 2013), and is assigned to Judge Timothy C. Batten.

Chanel Sues Georgia Company Over Counterfeit Cell Phone Covers

Chanel, Inc. of New York, New York, filed suit against Phone Fancy, LLC and Jasmine Marie Shaw, both of Atlanta, Georgia, alleging that Phone Fancy's cell phone covers incorporating one or more of Chanel's trademarks infringe Chanel's federal trademark rights.  Chanel claims that the cell phone covers are of "a quality substantially different than that of Chanel's genuine goods," and thus are also damaging Chanel's reputation among consumers.  The marks at issue are Registration Nos. 1,171,888, 1,348,842510,992, 4,074,269, and 3,890,159, which represent some of Chanel's most well-known marks (the oldest of which was registered in 1949).  Chanel's complaint includes counts for trademark infringement, counterfeiting, and dilution, and asks the Court to order immediate seizure and destruction of the allegedly infringing goods and to award damages, trebled under 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a).

The case is Chanel, Inc. v. Phone Fancy, LLC et al., No. 1:13-cv-03681-TCB (N.D. Ga. Nov. 7, 2013), and is assigned to Judge Timothy C. Batten.

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