NEW ORLEANS – Paint designer Annie Sloan Interiors Ltd. (ASI), which sued the makers of its paints for unfair competition, has obtained a victory in court.
U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Lemmon, on the bench of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, issued a 14-page ruling on Jan. 25, denying a motion to dismiss and a motion to transfer the lawsuit filed by ASI against Davis Paint Co., and its president David Ostby.
The court denied the motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, and the motion to transfer to the Western Missouri district, both filed by Ostby.
ASI sued Davis and Ostby claiming infringement of the Louisiana’s Unfair Trade Practices Act (LUTPA), as well as of misrepresentation, and of contributory infringement and unfair competition. As the creators of "chalk paint," one its trademarks, ASI had its products made by Davis and distributed by Jolie Design & Décor (JDD), after the three companies signed an agreement in 2010.
"However, over time, the relationship deteriorated between ASI and JDD, and in May 2018, ASI informed
JDD that it would be terminating their distribution agreement as of Nov. 5, 2018," the ruling said.
In April 2018, the owners of JDD, Lisa Rickert, Scott Rickert, and Jason Mobley, formed a new company called Jolie Home LLC (JHL).
"The complaint alleges that it was their plan to have Davis produce the same chalk paint products for JHL that Davis had previously made for ASI, and to stop making paint for ASI. Eventually, Davis did enter into
a manufacturing agreement with JHL, and ceased manufacturing paint for ASI," the ruling said.
JHL then decided, in a text message with Ostby, that it will sell its own paint brand called Joile, pushing the chalk paint brand to its products. As stated in the decision, "on May 11, 2018, Lisa Rickert sent Ostby an email with a proposed label for JHL’s paint can, which this court, in a related case, has found infringed on ASI’s long-time label by copying its trade dress."
Almost two months later, Ostby sent an email to Lisa Rickert, stating that his attorney was "concerned" about the label infringement, for which Lisa replied by saying that "JHL planned to go forward with design and content as it stood."
In her ruling, Judge Lemmon dismissed Davis and Ostby's argument of Missouri being more convenient for the suit, stating that "as for the local interest in having localized interests decided at home, resolution of this matter will involve application of Louisiana's unfair competition laws, including the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act, which Louisiana has an interest in adjudicating."
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana Case number 2:18-cv-08431-MVL-JVM