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United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
April 27, 2006, Argued ; June 30, 2006, Decided ; June 30, 2006, Filed
File Name: 06a0221p.06
[****1457] [***1] [*353] MERRITT, Circuit Judge. Plaintiff General Motors Corporation ("GM") sued defendants Tong Yang Industry Company, Limited ("Tong Yang"), a Taiwanese manufacturer of automobile replacement grilles bearing two GM trademarks, and Keystone Automotive Industries, Inc. ("Keystone"), a distributor of Tong Yang's grilles, for trademark infringement and unfair competition. On the issue of likelihood of confusion -- the sole issue on appeal -- the District Court granted [**2] summary judgment in favor of the defendants and denied GM's motion for summary judgment. We agree with the District Court that there is no likelihood of confusion "at the point of sale" to body shops and on the internet. We disagree and reverse and remand on the issue of [***2] likelihood of "downstream" consumer confusion due to genuine disputes of material fact regarding the visibility of the allegedly infringing portion of the grilles.
GM, currently the world's largest automaker, manufacturers and sells replacement parts for its vehicles. Tong Yang produces and sells aftermarket replacement parts for automobiles, including some manufactured by GM. Tong Yang sells these parts to distributors like Keystone, which in turn sells most of the parts to collision repair shops (including some owned by GM) and also sells some parts to individuals over the internet.
GM owns registered trademarks in the Chevrolet "bow tie" design and the "GMC" design. The instant case arose out of Tong Yang's manufacturing and Keystone's distribution of replacement grilles with "placeholders" bearing these two designs. See Exhibits A and B.
For Chevrolets, the placeholder is a [**3] recessed space on the front of the grille in the shape of a bow tie in which a heavy plastic GM "bow tie" emblem is inserted. For GMC vehicles, the placeholder is a raised pedestal upon which a red-lettered "GMC" emblem is mounted. Each emblem is a separate part always purchased from GM and is secured to the placeholder with studs or pins extending [****1458] from the back of the emblem so as to pass through holes in the placeholder. After inserted and secured in the placeholder of a Chevrolet grille, the "bow tie" emblem partially or wholly fills the "bow tie" recess. Similarly, when mounted onto a placeholder of a GMC grille, the "GMC" emblem wholly or partially covers the underlying "GMC" logo on the placeholder. See Exhibits C and D.
After GM filed suit, Tong Yang changed its grilles to remove the trademarked "bow tie" and "GMC" designs from its placeholders. These modifications have apparently decreased demand for the Tong Yang grilles.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
453 F.3d 351 *; 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 16450 **; 2006 FED App. 0221P (6th Cir.) ***; 79 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1456 ****
GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. KEYSTONE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRIES, INC., and TONG YANG INDUSTRY COMPANY, LIMITED, Defendants-Appellees.
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit. No. 02-74587--Nancy G. Edmunds, District Judge.
GMC v. Keystone Auto. Indus., 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23168 ( E.D. Mich., May 10, 2005)
grilles, likelihood of confusion, placeholder, manufacturer, trademarks, emblem, purchaser, unfair competition, downstream, visible, point of sale, bow tie, knockoffs, summary judgment, replacement, Keystone, trademark infringement, defendants', marks, confused, point-of-sale, eight-factor, collision, affixed, parties, buyers, favors, molded, cases, sells
Trademark Law, Infringement Actions, Summary Judgment, Standards, Standards of Review, Likelihood of Confusion, General Overview, Federal Unfair Competition Law, False Designation of Origin, Lanham Act, Consumer Confusion, Circuit Court Factors, 6th Circuit Court, Factors for Determining Confusion, Relationship of Goods, Similarity of Marks, Intent of Defendant to Confuse, Business & Corporate Compliance, Causes of Action Involving Trademarks, Determinations, Appearance, Meaning & Sound, Appearance