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Naked licensing constitutes abandonment under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C.S. § 1051 et seq. But it does not constitute abandonment under the Michigan Trademark and Service Mark Act's, MCL 429.31 et seq., more narrow definition of that term.
Plaintiff was a mark holder engaged in naked licensing of its mark, "Movie Mania," for more than 5 years with multiple parties. It sued defendants, who used the "Movie Mania" mark a decade after the first instance of plaintiff's naked licensing, for trademark infringement, under both the Lanham Act and the Trademark Act. The trial court granted defendants' request for summary disposition on the theory that plaintiff's naked licensing constituted abandonment of the "Movie Mania" mark under both the Lanham Act and the Trademark Act. Plaintiff appealed.
Were defendants entitled to summary judgment in the trademark infringement suit?
Plaintiff’s naked licensing constituted abandonment under the Lanham Act, but it did not constitute abandonment under the Trademark Act's more narrow definition of that term. Even so, plaintiff's action for infringement failed because its naked licensing of "Movie Mania" had made the mark not valid, and defendants' use of the mark did not make it liable for trademark infringement under the Trademark Act.