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Int'l Kennel Club of Chi., Inc. v. Mighty Star, Inc. - 846 F.2d 1079 (7th Cir. 1988)

Rule:

In order to prevail in an action under § 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C.S. § 1125(a), a plaintiff must establish: (1) that it has a protectable trademark, and (2) a "likelihood of confusion" as to the origin of the defendant's product.

Facts:

Plaintiff-appellee International Kennel Club of Chicago, Inc. was a corporation that was sponsoring dog shows in Chicago. Defendants-appellants, Mighty Star, Inc. and DCN Industries Inc., were corporations selling stuffed toys in the United States, Canada, England, Australia and Asia. In the later part of 1985, defendants decided to a line of stuffed "pedigree" dogs to their product line, which they named “International Kennel Club.”  Alleging that defendants’ use of the “International Kennel Club” name violated section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a), as well as state statutory and common law, plaintiff brought the present action against defendants.  The district court granted plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction enjoining defendants' use of the name, and defendants appealed.

Issue:

Was the grant of preliminary injunction against the defendant’s use of the name “International Kennel Club” proper?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that the plaintiff had shown a better than negligible chance of establishing that its name had acquired a protected secondary meaning among the consuming public. The Court further found that plaintiff had established the existence of a "likelihood of confusion" as to the origin of defendants' product, noting the degree of similarity between the parties' marks and that the parties' products were the kind that the public might attribute to a single source. Thus, the Court affirmed the grant of injunctive relief, finding that plaintiff had no adequate remedy at law and the balance of hardships favored the injunction.

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