Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Factors a court must consider when resolving a plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction are: (1) the threat of irreparable harm to plaintiff; (2) the state of the balance between this harm and the injury in granting the injunction will inflict on defendant; (3) the probability of plaintiff succeeding on the merits; and (4) the public interest. The court's analysis for each claim will begin with an assessment of the likelihood of success on the merits. If the party with the burden of proof makes a threshold showing that it is likely to prevail on the merits, the district court should then proceed to weigh the other three factors. This consideration is the most important of the four factors.
Plaintiff Anheuser-Busch, Incorporated was a leading American brewer and the owner of the registered trademark “Budweiser.” Along with beer products, plaintiff was selling various non-beer items, ranging in character from door hangers to shirts to dog leashes and collars to beach chairs, each having a “Budweiser” printed on it some form. Defendant VIP Products, LLC was a company creating, manufacturing and selling durable dog toys. One of the defendant’s products was called “Buttwiper.” Plaintiff discovered “Buttwiper,” and became of the opinion that the “Buttwiper” squeeze toy created a negative impression of the “Budweiser” brand. However, there was no evidence that plaintiff has lost any sales because of “Buttwiper.” Plaintiff then instituted the present complaint, alleging trademark infringement under 15 U.S.C.S. § 1114 and Mo. Rev. Stat. § 417.056, unfair competition under 15 U.S.C.S. § 1125(a) and Missouri common law, and dilution under 15 U.S.C.S. § 1125(c) and Mo. Rev. Stat. § 417.061. Plaintiff sought a preliminary injunction under Fed. R. Civ. P. 65 to bar defendant from manufacturing, distributing, marketing, and selling the “Buttwiper” squeeze toy.
Under the circumstances, should preliminary injunction be granted in favor of plaintiff to bar defendant from manufacturing, distributing, marketing, and selling the “Buttwiper” squeeze toy?
The Court found that the factors weighed in favor of granting plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction on its claims for trademark infringement and unfair competition. According to the Court, plaintiff had a likelihood of success on the merits as its mark was inherently distinctive and had priority to defendant's toy, its mark trade dress was nonfunctional, and it had proven actual confusion between plaintiff's mark and defendant's toy. Defendant's parody argument did not defeat the likelihood of confusion established by plaintiff. Moreover, based upon the evidence presented, plaintiff had a "fair chance" of prevailing on the confusion question. With regard to the threat of irreparable harm, the Court found that the balancing test favored plaintiff. There was uncontested evidence of the likelihood of confusion between plaintiff's product and defendant's dog toy, and plaintiff had at least a fair chance of prevailing in its trademark and unfair competition claims. Defendant presented no evidence of any harm it might endure if plaintiff were granted a preliminary injunction. Finally, the Court found that the public interest considerations favored the granting of a preliminary injunction.