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Lifted Research Group, Inc. v. Behdad

December 10, 2008

LIFTED RESEARCH GROUP, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
BEHDAD, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Lifted Research Group, Inc. ("LRG") filed a Complaint in this case against Defendant Behdad, Inc. ("Defendant") on March 4, 2008 alleging violations of federal trademark and copyright law.*fn1 See Compl., Docket No. [1]. Although properly and timely served with the Complaint and Summons, Defendant failed to respond to the Complaint, and the Clerk of the Court, upon motion by Plaintiff, entered default against Defendant on May 16, 2008. See Clerk's Entry of Default as to Behdad, Inc., Docket No. [5]. Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's [8] Motion for Default Judgment. Having thoroughly considered Plaintiff's submissions, including the attachments thereto, applicable case law, statutory authority, and the record of the case as a whole, the Court shall GRANT IN PART and HOLD IN ABEYANCE IN PART Plaintiff's [8] Motion for Default Judgment as to Defendant Behdad, Inc. Specifically, the Court grants Plaintiff's Motion as to liability and its request for injunctive relief, but holds in abeyance Plaintiff's Motion as to its request for monetary damages, for the reasons stated below.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed a Complaint in the above-captioned case on March 4, 2008, alleging: (1) trademark counterfeiting and infringement in violation of § 32 of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1114; (2) false designation of origin in violation of § 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a); and (3) copyright infringement in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 501. Compl. at ¶¶ 27-45. As is relevant to the instant case, Plaintiff is the owner of all rights in and to four trademarks (Reg. Nos. 2,513,951; 2,633,832; 2,506, 859; and 2,958,307 (hereinafter "Marks")), and is also the owner of United States Copyright Registration No. VA-1-348-151 (hereinafter "Copyright"). Pl.'s Mot. for Default J. at 2-3; see also Compl. at ¶ 7. According to the Complaint, Defendant is the owner and operator of a retail operation within the District of Columbia that Plaintiff alleges fraudulently promoted, advertised, distributed, offered for sale and sold certain apparel items, including jeans, shorts and t-shirts, bearing the counterfeits of Plaintiff's Marks and which infringe on the work protected by Plaintiff's Copyright. Compl. at ¶¶ 4-5, 16-22; see also Pl.'s Mot. for Default J. at 6.

Defendant was served with the Complaint and Summons on March 20, 2008, and was therefore required to respond by April 9, 2008. See Return of Service/Affidavit, Docket No. [3]; see also Pl.'s Mot. for Entry of Default, Docket No. [4]. Defendant failed to file an answer or otherwise respond to Plaintiff's Complaint, and Plaintiff moved for entry of default as to Defendant. See P.'s Mot. for Entry of Default, Docket No. [4]. On May 16, 2008, the Clerk of the Court entered default against Defendant. See Clerk's Entry of Default as to Behdad, Inc., Docket No. [5]. Plaintiff now moves for entry of default judgment as to Defendant Behdad, Inc. See Pl.'s Mot. for Default J., Docket No. [8].

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a) provides that the clerk of the court must enter a party's default "[w]hen a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise." FED. R. CIV. P. 55(a). After a default has been entered by the clerk of the court, a court may enter a default judgment pursuant to Rule 55(b). FED. R. CIV. P. 55(B). "The determination of whether default judgment is appropriate is committed to the discretion of the trial court." Int'l Painters and Allied Trades Industry Pension Fund v. Auxier Drywall, LLC, 531 F. Supp. 2d 56, 57 (D.D.C. 2008) (citing Jackson v. Beech, 636 F.2d 831, 836 (D.C. Cir. 1980)). Upon entry of default by the clerk of the court, the "defaulting defendant is deemed to admit every well-pleaded allegation in the complaint." Int'l Painters and Allied Trades Indus. Pension Fund v. R.W. Armine Drywall Co., Inc., 239 F. Supp. 2d 26, 30 (D.D.C. 2002) (internal citation omitted). "Although the default establishes a defendant's liability, the court is required to make an independent determination of the sum to be awarded unless the amount of damages is certain."

Id. (citing Adins v. Teseo, 180 F. Supp. 2d 15, 17 (D.D.C. 2001). Accordingly, when moving for a default judgment, the plaintiff must prove its entitlement to the amount of monetary damages requested. Id. "In ruling on such a motion, the court may rely on detailed affidavits or documentary evidence to determine the appropriate sum for the default judgment." Id.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Liability for Violations of the Lanham Act and the Copyright Act

Where, as here, there is a complete "absence of any request to set aside the default or suggestion by the defendant that it has a meritorious defense, it is clear that the standard for default judgment has been satisfied." Auxier Drywall, LLC, 531 F. Supp. 2d at 57 (internal quotation marks omitted). The Clerk of the Court entered Defendant's default, and the factual allegations in the Complaint are therefore taken as true. R.W. Armine Drywall Co., Inc., 239 F. Supp. 2d at 30. The Court finds that Plaintiff's Complaint sufficiently alleges facts to support Plaintiff's claims of trademark counterfeiting and infringement, false designation of origin, and copyright infringement.

First, a claim for federal trademark infringement pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1114 and a claim for a false designation of origin pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a) are measured by the same standards under the Lanham Act. See Globalaw Ltd. v. Carmon & Carmon Law Office, 452 F. Supp. 2d 1, 26 (D.D.C. 2006); see also A&H Sportwear, Inc. v. Victoria's Secret Stores, Inc., 237 F.3d 198, 210 (3d Cir. 2000). To prevail on either claim in the D.C. Circuit, "the plaintiff must show (1) that it owns a valid trademark, (2) that its trademark is distinctive or has acquired a secondary meaning, and (3) that there is a substantial likelihood of confusion between the plaintiff's mark and the alleged infringer's mark." Globalaw Ltd., 452 F. Supp. 2d at 26-27 (internal quotation marks omitted). By default, Defendant admits that Plaintiff has valid Marks that have a secondary meaning and that there is a substantial likelihood of confusion. See Compl. at ¶¶ 2, 7-14, 17, 22, 27-40

Second, to establish trademark counterfeiting, Plaintiff must show that Defendant infringed a registered trademark in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1)(a) and that Defendant "intentionally used a mark, knowing such mark is a counterfeit mark." 15 U.S.C. § 1117(b); see also Babbit Elec., Inc. v. Dynascan Corp., 38 F.3d 1161, 1181 (11th Cir. 1994). As shown directly above, supra 4, Plaintiff has established that Defendant infringed Plaintiff's registered trademarks, and, by default, Defendant admits that it intentionally used the Marks knowing they were counterfeit, see Compl. ¶¶15-22, 27-33.

Third, and finally, to prevail on a claim of copyright infringement Plaintiff "must prove '(1) ownership of a valid copyright, and (2) copying of constituent elements of the work that are original.'" Stenograph LLC v. Bossard Assocs., Inc., 144 F.3d 96, 99 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (quoting Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 361 (1991)). Again, by default, Defendant admits that Plaintiff owns a valid Copyright, and has copied elements of Plaintiff's Copyright that are original. See Compl. ...


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