Major Sports Leagues Band Together Against Merchandise Counterfeiters

Three major sports leagues, among others, have recently banded together to put an end to a purportedly massive online circuit of sports merchandise counterfeiters using the leagues’ distinctive trademarks.  On July 2, 2018, NBA Properties, Inc., MLB Advanced Media, L.P., NHL Enterprises, L.P., IMG College Licensing, LLC, and the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska (Plaintiffs) filed suit against an undisclosed list of foreign defendants for alleged trademark infringement. Plaintiffs contend that the online stores are selling their products by using their distinctive…
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University of Arkansas Files Suit Against Counterfeit Retailers

On Tuesday, June 26, 2018, the University of Arkansas’ Board of Trustees filed a suit seeking to stop a “massive network” of counterfeit websites selling fake or unregistered Razorback merchandise. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court, in the Northern District of Illinois. Defendants are not named, but are described as retailers “residing in China” or “other foreign jurisdictions”, operating “without any authorizations or licenses”. These phony retailers are extremely successful, as the complaint alleges that they receive tens of millions of visits per…
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Game Developer Moves to Transfer Trademark Suit Outside of NCAA Home Ground

On August 31, 2017, defendant Kizzang LLC, a game developer, filed a motion in its case against the NCAA to either move the case from the Indiana Federal Court or dismiss it for lack of jurisdiction and venue. The suit stems from the allegations that Kizzang infringed on the NCAA’s trademarks, “March Madness” and “Final Four.” Kizzang claimed the NCAA filed the suit in the Indiana Federal Court only out of convenience and that none of its allegations included any direct contact with the…
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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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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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Lights Out: Merriman Lawsuit Against Vermont Teddy Bear Settles

Shawne Merriman, former linebacker for the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills, along with his company Lights Out Holdings, has settled a another trademark infringement suit over the usage of his trademark, “Lights Out,” a registered trademark since 2004. The suit alleged that The Vermont Teddy Bear Company used Merriman’s trademark on its product, including teddy bears and pajamas for both adults and children. According to the complaint filed on April 5, 2016, the company “refused to cooperate” through a product name change. On Thursday,…
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“House of Cards” Trademark Owner vs. Netflix Series

The producer of popular Netflix series, “House of Cards” was sued on Thursday, March 3, 2016, for trademark infringement. The suit, filed in a Massachusetts federal court, alleges that defendant, Media Rights Capital II Distribution Company (MRC), which distributes the popular Netflix series, unlawfully licensed the “House of Cards” mark to other entities. D2 Holdings, the plaintiff and holder of the “House of Cards” trademark, alleges that the defendant licensed the trademark to third party companies to make merchandise such as T-shirts and hats. The…
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Don’t Wear it Out: Settlement in Lawsuit Against Nike Over the Allegedly Improper Use of the Name “Lights Out”

After nearly two years, a trademark infringement lawsuit brought by NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman against Nike has settled, according to documents filed in California federal court on Thursday, February 11, 2016. The lawsuit was sparked by Nike’s use of the term “Lights Out” for one of its lines of athletic apparel. Merriman was given the nickname “Lights Out” while in high school, and upon entering college, began selling T-shirts with a “Lights Out” logo to help pay for his schooling. Prior to the settlement, Merriman…
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Redskins to Benefit From Federal Circuit’s Ruling in TM Action

On December 22, 2015, the Federal Circuit came to a conclusion regarding the government’s ban on “disparaging” trademark registrations that will likely support the Washington Redskins in its attempt to recover cancelled trademarks. The Federal Circuit held, in a similar case, that it is unconstitutional for the government to prohibit trademark registrations that it deems to be “disparaging,” as such action violates the First Amendment. Tuesday’s ruling occurred in a similar case, where Seattle-based rock band — The Slants — were refused a trademark…
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