Start Your Engines: Legal Battle Over Earnhardt Name Revived

Kerry Earnhardt, the late Dale Earnhardt’s eldest son, applied through his Kerry Earnhardt Inc. company in 2011 to register “Earnhardt Collection” for both furniture and custom home design. In 2012, Dale Earnhardt’s widow and third wife, Theresa Earnhardt, filed an opposition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) seeking to block Kerry’s application. Theresa is Kerry’s stepmother and owner of Dale Earnhardt Inc., and already own a number of “Earnhardt” registrations for a wide variety of goods. In February of 2016, the TTAB dismissed…
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Titleist Calls Out Website Over Rules Violation for Product Line

On July 13, 2017, Titleist’s parent company, Acushnet Co., filed a complaint in Massachusetts federal court against imadebogey.com’s owner, Benjamin Russell, alleging his products infringe Titleist’s classic marks and offend its customers. The complaint cites unfair competition, trademark infringement and dilution. Imadebogey.com sells golf hats and other accessories with the words “Titties” and “Titlost” instead of “Titleist” in the same distinctive stylized script as the 84-year-old logo, including shirts and beer koozies. These are just some of their golf-related products sold on the website that…
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Muirfield Village Golf Club Files Trademark Claim

Muirfield Village Golf Club, which hosts the annual Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour, has sued TCGC Properties LLC for trademark infringement. Muirfield, located in Dublin, Ohio, alleges that TCGC filed a trademark application in early May, attempting to register the Memorial Tournament marks in its name. Therefore, Muirfield claims, TCGC has infringed by attempting to profit off the goodwill generated by Muirfield from hosting the tournament since 1976. TCGC claims they own the Memorial Tournament mark and should have the exclusive right to use…
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Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Former-NCAA Champions’ Likeness Suit

The Ninth Circuit has affirmed the dismissal of the lawsuit of two former college basketball players against a website that sold official NCAA photos, as the website’s rights under federal copyright law preempted the players’ publicity rights. As background, two former Division III college basketball players, Patrick Maloney and Tim Judge, sued T3Media in June, 2014 regarding the Website’s deal with the NCAA to host and license the League’s photos. Maloney and Judge were part of the 2001 NCAA championship team — Catholic University.…
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Supreme Court Grants Cheerleading Apparel Manufacturer’s Request: Uniform’s Decorative Elements are Copyrightable

The U.S. Supreme Court held that a cheerleading uniform’s decorative elements may be protected under copyright law — a ruling aimed at providing some resolution regarding the disagreement over when these types of designs are eligible for protection under U.S. copyright law. As background, in 2010, Varsity Brands, Inc., the country’s largest cheerleading supplier, accused one of its rivals, Star Athletica, of copying the key elements of its uniform’s design, including stripes, chevrons, and other graphic elements that Varsity had registered with the Copyright…
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Judge Finds Chink in IP Suit Over Iron Man’s Armor

On March 27, 2017, U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken dismissed in part and granted in part Walt Disney’s Marvel Entertainment’s bid to dismiss a copyright suit by Horizon Comics Productions Inc. over Iron Man’s body armor design. The lawsuit commenced in April 2015 by Horizon’s owners Ben and Ray Lai, who claimed Iron Man’s armor was based upon their 2001 comic book series Radix. In addition, the Lai brothers claimed that Marvel’s promotional poster for Iron Man 3 copied a promotional piece of…
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Game Developer Agrees to Cease Usage of “April Madness” and “Final 3” in 2017

Game developer Kizzang LLC, accused by the NCAA of infringing on the Association’s “March Madness” Trademark, has agreed to cease use of similar marks for any of its basketball-themed games during 2017 — while the infringement suit proceeds in Indiana federal court. As background, the NCAA — an avid defender of its “March Madness” mark — filed suit against Kizzang and its owner, Robert Alexander, less than a week before the annual commencement of its men’s basketball tournament. As previously reported, the NCAA’s…
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NCAA Initiates Trademark Infringement Suit Against Online Game Developer Over “April Madness”

With “March Madness” upon us, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana, alleging trademark infringement and unfair competition. As background, the NCAA has used the trademarks “Final Four” and “March Madness” to identify and distinguish is basketball competitions for over twenty years. The NCAA marks cover goods like duffel bags, tote bags, and telecommunication services. Notorious for protecting its right to the “Madness” name, the NCAA initiated this trademark infringement suit over online fantasy games called “…
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Helmet Maker Riddell Accuses Rivals of Delaying Football Helmet Patent Infringement Litigations: Unfair Delay, or Proper Use of a Stay Pending the PTAB Outcome?

Riddell, Inc., a Chicago-based sports equipment maker, urged an Illinois federal court to keep its patent infringement suits moving forward, instead of granting its rival’s motion to stay the cases while the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) reviews the patents at issue. As background, Riddell filed two lawsuits in April, 2016 against Schutt Sports and Xenith, LLC, alleging the competing companies’ football helmets violated Riddell’s “Sports Helmet” patents, patent numbers 8,938,818 and 8,528,118, both issued between 2013 and 2015. Each patent provides detail…
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