Louisiana Record

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Lower court is directed to adjust award in trademark infringement case


By Charmaine Little | Mar 29, 2019

The U.S. Court of Appeals in the 5th Circuit has directed the U.S Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to determine the amount of fees a nonprofit watchdog group should receive in its trademark infringement case against a similar organization.

The lower court previously ruled for the Alliance For Good Government against the Coalition For Better Government, granting its motion for summary judgment and banning the Coalition from using its logo and trade name. It also awarded attorney’s fees to Alliance. 

While the appeals court agreed that Alliance is owed fees, it changed the district court’s injunction and allowed Coalition to use the trade name. It then remanded the case back to the lower court to determine the amount of fees Alliance is truly owed.

Circuit Judge Patrick Higginbotham authored the opinion. Circuit Judges D. Brooks Smith and Stephen Higginson concurred. 

“We have concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding Alliance to be entitled to attorney’s fees,” Higginbotham wrote. “We agree with Coalition, however, that the district court must reassess their amount given our decision to modify the district court’s injunction to allow Coalition to continue the use of its trade name.”

The appeals court remanded the case back to the lower court so it could determine the billed time for the claims where Alliance lost and modify the fee. 

From being based in New Orleans and holding the title of a nonprofit organization, Alliance and Coalition are very similar entities. Alliance started using its logo with a bird and stretched wings in the 1960s. Coalition started using its strikingly similar logo 20 or 30 years later. Alliance originally filed a lawsuit against Coalition for trademark infringement in 2008. 

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