United States Fourth Circuit

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Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products v. Von Drehle Corporation, 13-2003

Plaintiff owns the trademark "enMotion," which it uses to brand a paper-towel dispenser that dispenses only the ten-inch branded paper towels it manufactures. Defendant, a North Carolina corporation that competes with plaintiff in the sale of paper towels, designed a less expensive paper towel that it sold specifically for use in plaintiff's "enMotion" towel dispensers. Plaintiff brought three separate actions alleging that defendant's practices constituted contributory trademark infringement of plaintiff's "enMotion" mark, in violation of the Lanham Act. The district court entered a permanent, nationwide injunction against defendant and awarded treble damages, awarded plaintiff attorneys fees, awarded plaintiff prejudgment interest, and awarded plaintiff court costs. The district court's judgment is reversed in part, and vacated and remanded in part, where: 1) for the sake of comity, under the unique circumstances of this case, the injunction must be limited geographically to the States in the 4th circuit; 2) by relying on Larsen v. Terk Techs. Corp. and awarding treble damages for willful and intentional infringement, the district court erroneously conflated 15 U.S.C. sections 1117(a) and 1117(b); 3) the award of attorneys fees must be vacated and remanded for further consideration in light of the Octane Fitness v. ICON Health & Fitness standard, which provides guidelines for determining when cases are exceptional so as to justify an award of attorneys fees; and 4) section 1117(a) employs the "exceptional case" standard only for an award of attorneys fees, not prejudgment interest.

Appellate Information

  • Decided 03/30/2015
  • Published 03/30/2015

Judges

  • Niemeyer

Court

  • United States Fourth Circuit

Counsel