Lewis & Lin recently won a motion for summary judgment in our case against a domain name cybersquatter. We represented plaintiff Alpha Recycling, Inc. a New York company that recycles catalytic converters and scrap metal. The defendant was a precious metal broker who sold several million dollars’ worth of catalytic converters to our client before their business relationship soured. During the course of their dealings, defendant registered a number of domain names that used the term “alpha” in relation to recycling services, including
Lewis & Lin filed a complaint in Federal Court in New York asserting claims for cybersquatting under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (“ACPA”), as well as common law claims for defamation and trade libel, unfair competition, and trademark infringement. We also filed a motion seeking summary judgment on our cybersquatting claim.
Under the ACPA, to successfully assert a claim for cybersquatting, a plaintiff must demonstrate that (1) its marks were distinctive at the time the domain name was registered; (2) the domain names complained of are identical to or confusingly similar to plaintiff’s mark; and (3) the infringer had a bad faith intent to profit from that mark. The defendant opposed summary judgment on two grounds: that the ALPHA mark was not distinctive, and that defendant lacked the requisite bad faith.
We argued that the term ALPHA, when used in connection with plaintiff’s goods and services, is arbitrary and therefore inherently distinctive and entitled to trademark protection. As to the defendant’s bad faith, we pointed out that visitors to the domains at issue were directed to defendant’s own website. The defendant testified that he redirected the traffic in order to “get back at [Alpha]” because “they had taken away a very large portion of [his] business.” He also posted a video to YouTube with the title “Alpha Catalytic Converter Recycling Experts” that was actually a commercial for defendant’s own business. Finally, we submitted evidence to show that defendant is a repeat cybersquatter who had registered domain names incorporating the marks of other firms.
Judge J. Paul Oetken of the Southern District of New York agreed with us on both points and ruled in our favor. The case is Alpha Recycling, Inc. v. Crosby, No. 14-CV-5015 (JPO), S.D.N.Y.
Lewis & Lin recently won a dismissal of a lawsuit filed against our client, the founder and CEO of a Nevada ticketing company.
Plaintiff, a major online secondary marketplace for entertainment and sporting tickets, sued our client for alleged violation of a ticket data sharing agreement. Plaintiff alleged that the agreement provided defendant’s company access to plaintiff’s online database of tickets offered by ticket brokers, which defendant’s company could access for its customers. In exchange for the access, defendant’s company was to pay plaintiff the amount sought by the broker for any tickets purchased, plus an additional 3% fee. Plaintiff claimed that defendant owed over $2 million for unpaid fees. An arbitration was filed in Connecticut to enforce the terms of the agreement, which contained an arbitration clause and was signed by the defendant. In addition, plaintiff filed an action in Connecticut state court seeking a prejudgment remedy.
Both Plaintiff’s arbitration and court complaints named our client individually, but not the corporate entity. After removing the state court action to federal court, Lewis & Lin immediately filed a motion to dismiss for two reasons: (1) the fiduciary shield doctrine prevented a Connecticut court from exercising personal jurisdiction over the individual defendant for actions he took in Connecticut solely as an agent of the corporate entity, and (2) plaintiff failed to state a claim against the individual defendant because he did not sign the agreement that formed the basis for the parties’ dispute in his individual capacity.
The court agreed with our position, resolving both issues in our favor based on its determination that the defendant signed the contract only as a representative of a corporate entity. Analyzing the case under Connecticut law, the court ruled that in order to avoid personal liability on a contract on another’s behalf, an agent must disclose both the fact that he is acting in a representative capacity, and the identity of the principal. In this case, the legal name of the corporate entity was not disclosed in the contract; listed instead was its trade name (a “dba”), which was registered in New York. The issue thus turned on whether registering a trade name in New York provides constructive notice of that name’s user as a matter of Connecticut law—an issue of first impression.
After reviewing the purposes behind Connecticut’s and New York’s parallel statutes governing the registration of assumed business names, the court concluded that plaintiff had constructive notice that defendant was acting in a representative capacity on behalf of a known principal based in New York. Accordingly, the individual defendant, our client, “cannot be held personally liable on the contract he signed, because he contracted on behalf of a disclosed corporation.”
Shortly after the case was dismissed against our client, the parties resolved their differences amicably. The full decision is available here.
Lewis & Lin obtained a dismissal of a federal lawsuit against our client alleging copyright violations.
The case was filed in federal court in California by the registered copyright owner of two original textile print artworks. Plaintiff claimed that Lewis & Lin’s client Dani II Inc.–owner of the KAS New York fashion label–distributed clothing that infringed on plaintiff’s designs to Neiman Marcus stores for sale nationwide.
At the inception of the case, Lewis & Lin filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, arguing that Dani II did not possess minimum contacts with California, and therefore maintaining the suit there would violate its due process rights.
Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles agreed. In a written opinion, the court ruled that plaintiff “failed to carry its burden to contravene” Dani II’s sworn statement supporting its position that general jurisdiction should not lie in California.
Regarding plaintiff’s argument for specific jurisdiction, the court agreed with Lewis & Lin on all three parts of the 9th Circuit’s Schwarzenegger test. The test requires that plaintiff show (1) the non-resident defendant purposefully directed its activities with the forum state, (2) the plaintiff’s claim arises out of the defendant’s forum-related activities, and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction comports with fair play and substantial justice. As the court ruled: “even assuming that Dani II knew that goods shipped to Neiman Marcus might have eventually ended up in California, it is not enough that the defendant might have predicted that its goods will reach the forum State.” The court further stated that plaintiff “only provided speculative and conclusory statements to establish Dani II’s contacts with California [and] plaintiff’s naked assertion cannot suffice absent further factual enhancement.”
Accordingly, the court granted Lewis & Lin’s motion to dismiss. The case is Star Fabrics, Inc. v. Neiman Marcus Group LLC et al., No. 14-CV-7170 (C.D. Cal.).
Lewis & Lin secured a victory for our client today in a case involving an e-commerce site’s liability for misdirected goods. Plaintiff sued our client, a top five Internet daily deal site, for damages resulting from the loss of a shipment of $200,000 worth of flat screen TVs.
Lewis & Lin filed a motion to dismiss on three grounds:
(1) Plaintiff failed to state a claim for breach of contract because, under the Uniform Commercial Code, the Purchase Invoice governing the sale of the TVs was a “shipment” contract, not a “destination” contract, and the risk of loss was borne by the plaintiff;
(2) Plaintiff failed to state a negligence claim because there was no allegation of a legal duty independent of the duty imposed by the contract itself; and
(3) Plaintiff failed to state claims for unjust enrichment or money had and received because those quasi-contract doctrines do not apply where the parties’ obligations are governed by a written contract for the sale of goods.
In a Report and Recommendation adopted by Judge Richard J. Arcara of the U.S. District Court of the Western District of New York, the court agreed with Lewis & Lin’s arguments on all three points. The case is Stampede Presentation Products, Inc. v. Productive Transportation, Inc. et al., No. 12-CV-491A (Sr) (W.D.N.Y.).