Ninth Circuit: Trademark claim against tribal corporation does not confer tribal court jurisdiction

In a recent decision, the Ninth Circuit reversed a district court's grant of a motion to stay federal trademark claims against Indian tribal defendants pending a determination of jurisdiction by a tribal court.  The trademark claims were for alleged passing off of cigarettes on the Internet, on the reservation of another tribe, and elsewhere.  The district court ruled that there was at least a colorable claim to tribal jurisdiction under Supreme Court precedent and granted a stay of federal proceedings pending a determination of jurisdiction by the tribal court.

The Ninth Circuit reversed, holding there was not a colorable claim of jurisdiction in tribal court insofar as it implicated the plaintiff's federal trademark claim against the tribal defendants and its principals, members of the Yakama Tribe.  Accordingly, allowing exhaustion of tribal remedies would serve no purpose other than delay.  As a result, the court reversed the district court's decision and remanded for the case to proceed.

More on Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. King Mountain Tobacco Co. after the jump.


Third Circuit: Some store brand sucralose packaging confusing; injunction denial partially reversed

In a Christmas Eve decision, the Third Circuit partially reversed a district court's denial of a preliminary injunction regarding "store brand" sucralose sweeteners.  McNeil Nutritionals, makers of Splenda®, brought suit against a company that produces several different sucralose products that bear the store's name and compete with Splenda®.  The district court found McNeil not likely to succeed on the merits of the case, as the presence of the store's name on the competing product obviated any likely confusion.  As a result, the district court denied preliminary injunctive relief.

The Third Circuit partially reversed, finding that one of the three packaging configurations sold was, at least preliminarily, likely to be confused with McNeil's Splenda® trade dress.  As a result, for this packaging, the court reversed the denial of the injunction with regard to this packaging, but affirmed with regard to the other two.

More detail of McNeil Nutritionals, LLC v. Heartland Sweeteners, LLC after the jump.


Tenth Circuit: Post-sale confusion relevant, but denial of injunction still affirmed

In a decision rendered yesterday, the Tenth Circuit affirmed a district court's denial of a preliminary injunction in a trade dress infringement case.  The Tenth Circuit did join multiple other circuits in holding that post-sale confusion can be relevant to a claim of trade dress infringement.

Evidence of post-sale confusion, however, was still insufficient evidence to justify a preliminary injunction.  Assessing the district court's application of the traditional four-factor test considered when injunctions are requested, the court held the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the plaintiff did not make a "strong showing" of likelihood of success on the merits, and that the balance of equities did not favor the plaintiff.  Accordingly, the denial of the preliminary injunction was affirmed.

More detail of Gen. Motors Corp. v. Urban Gorilla, LLC after the jump.


Ninth Circuit: No confusion likely between competing energy drinks, preliminary injunction vacated

In a decision today, the Ninth Circuit vacated a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit over the trade dress of two competing energy drinks.  The court held the district court's conclusion that success was likely on the merits was clearly erroneous, largely because of the dissimilarity of the two trade dresses.

More detail of Hansen Beverage Co. v. Nat'l Beverage Corp. after the jump.


Back to the Future: trade dress found functional in 1985 still functional in 2007

The Federal Circuit once again rejected Bose Corporation's application to register a speaker design as a trademark. The court had earlier affirmed a finding of functionality by the USPTO, and because there were no changed circumstances since that decision, the court once again affirmed the same finding based on the doctrine of res judicata (claim preclusion).

More details of the case after the jump.


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