BLOGS: Furniture Law Blog

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Thursday, January 6, 2011, 1:13 PM

WEEKENDS No Time Off For Arkansas Furniture Retailers

Two Jonesboro, Arkansas furniture retailers are in litigation over the use of the term "WEEKENDS" in their store names.  On December 17, 2010, Christopher Gamble, owner of a furniture store doing business as "Weekends" sued Furniture Row, LLC and Furniture Row USA, LCC for adding the term "Weekends" to the name of their store approximately six miles from Gamble's store thus naming the store "Weekends at Furniture Row."  (Civil Action No. 3:10-cv-323 (E.D. Ark.)).

The complaint reveals that Gamble does not have a federal trademark registration and only obtained a state registration after defendants changed their store's name.  While without the benefits of a federal registration, Gamble apparently has collected over 30 instances of actual confusion.  Presuming those instances of confusion are admissible, this case demonstrates how a common law mark can potentially be protected without a federal registration.  Of course, the better course of action is seek and obtain a federal registration in most cases.

FBI Strikes Back Against Non-Practicing Entity

On December 14, 2010, St. Louis, MO based Furniture Brands International filed a declaratory judgment action against Webvention Holdings, LLC in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware (Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-1090).  As with 11 other cases filed against Webvention in Delaware, the complaint seeks a declaration of noninfringement or unenforceability of U.S. Patent No. 5,251,294 ("the '294 patent").  Webvention is a non-practicing entity (a/k/a "patent trolls") that has sued numerous well-known entities in the Eastern District of Texas for infringement of the '294 patent, entitled "Accessing, Assembling, and Using Bodies of Information."

Webvention has been served and its response to the complaint is due Feb. 17, 2011.  This case, along with the 11 other related cases, will be watched closely as it will affect Webvention's infringement cases in Texas and Webvention's ability to continue collecting licensing fees.
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