Louisiana Record

Monday, August 19, 2019

Court denies Camellia Grills' motion to reconsider in trademark infringement case

By Robert Davis | Mar 18, 2018

NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana denied a motion to reconsider its ruling in a trademark infringement case filed by Camellia Grill Holdings (CGH) on March 7, finding that the company sold all of its trademarks to Uptown Grill in a bill of sale. 

Judge Jane Triche Milazzo presided over the ruling.  

After applying state and federal trademark law, the court found that Michael Schwartz, owner of Camellia Grill, has no remaining protectable interests and denied his request to find that he still owns Camellia Grill trademarks beyond Carrollton Avenue.

Schwartz's lawyers argued that the Uptown Grill operators violated a licensing agreement by running the restaurant on Chartres Street with covered marks on three separate occasions. The court denied two of these claims, citing a lack of evidence because the sworn affidavit submitted to the court contained language such as "at some time" and "following", which do not constitute dates specific enough to warrant a court ruling. The one time period in which the claim was applicable was between June 2011 and November 2013. 

Uptown Grill argued that the affidavit was inadmissible evidence and did not deny that the Chartres Street restaurant retained Camellia Grill trademarks until November 2013. The court ruled that this was a clear violation of the licensing agreement between the two entities. 

When Camellia Grill disputed the findings and attempted to recoup damages under Louisiana Revised Statutes § 51:222, the state's copyright infringement statute, the court found that the statute did not apply because Uptown Grill was a registered trademark of the federal government, not the State of Louisiana. The court later acknowledged its error in interpreting the law this way, but the error did not change the outcome of the case. 

The burden of proof in the case was restricted to Camellia Grill's ability to show that its trademark was being used to exact profits by another entity. It argued that the Eastern District of Louisiana's Local Rule of Civil Procedure 56.2, which states that a motion to oppose a summary trial must prove there is a material fact at issue, relieves it of the burden applied under the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. The court found that it was Camellia Grill's own admission of facts that prevented the court from moving to a summary trial. 

As for Camellia Grill's claim under state trademark law, the Fifth Circuit Court upheld the Third Circuit's findings that the company has no claims under the state laws because of the provisions detailed in its bill of sale. This reasoning was cited in the court's February 8 Order and Reasons of the Court because the statute only applied to trademarks registered in the state, and further denied Camellia Grill's interlocutory appeal of their findings. 

This is not the first time Camellia Grill has been in court for a trademark law case. The company was forced to change its name to "The Grill" and remodel its exterior after a ruling found that the restaurant operator breached a licensing agreement in 2013. 

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U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana