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Law School Case Brief

Daddy's Junky Music Stores, Inc. v. Big Daddy's Family Music Ctr. - 109 F.3d 275 (6th Cir. 1997)

Rule:

The touchstone of liability under 15 U.S.C.S. § 1114 is whether the defendant's use of the disputed mark is likely to cause confusion among consumers regarding the origin of the goods offered by the parties. When determining whether a likelihood of confusion exists, a court must examine and weigh the following eight factors: 1. strength of the senior mark; 2. relatedness of the goods or services; 3. similarity of the marks; 4. evidence of actual confusion; 5. marketing channels used; 6. likely degree of purchaser care; 7. the intent of defendant in selecting the mark; and 8. likelihood of expansion of the product lines.

Facts:

Plaintiff owned a chain of retail stores, which sold new and used musical instruments and related equipment. Plaintiff held three related trademark/service mark registrations. After learning that defendant was using a similar trademark for his music store, plaintiff filed suit alleging trademark infringement and false designation under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C.S. §§ 1114 and 1125(a), and under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act of Ohio, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4165.02 (1991). As a response, defendant filed a motion for summary judgment against every claim of the plaintiff. Both parties essentially contested in their motions whether there is a likelihood that consumers will be confused between the marks of plaintiff and the names used by defendant. The District Court granted the summary judgment motion of defendant, holding that, as a matter of law, there is no likelihood of confusion between the marks of the parties. Plaintiff appealed.

Issue:

Was the District Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant proper?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the federal district court's grant of summary judgment for defendant on all of plaintiff's claims because genuine issues of fact existed as to the likelihood of confusion. A material issue of fact remained whether the existence of 15 other registered marks incorporating plaintiff's name weakened plaintiff's marks for the purpose of retail sales of musical instruments.

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