A blog about patent, copyright and trademark law in the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of New York

Defendant Who Wins Dismissal on Personal Jurisdiction Grounds Is Not a Prevailing Party Under the Lanham Act

In a March 17, 2014 ruling, Judge Paul G. Gardephe adopted Magistrate Judge Gorenstein’s Report and Recommendation denying attorneys’ fees to defendants who secured dismissal of a trademark infringement action on personal jurisdiction grounds. After the Court dismissed the action on jurisdictional grounds, the defendants “moved for an award of attorneys’ fees under Section 35(a) of the Lanham Act” and under the Court’s inherent authority. Judge Gardephe adopted Judge Gorenstein’s reasoning that the defendants were not “prevailing parties” under the Lanham Act, and thus not entitled to fees. The Court approved of Judge Gorenstein’s application of the “closely analogous” decision of the Second Circuit in Dattner v. Conagra Foods, Inc., 458 F.3d 98 (2d Cir. 2006) which found that a defendant who secures a dismissal on forum non conveniens grounds is likewise not a “prevailing party” entitled to fees.

Judge Gardephe disagreed with the Report and Recommendation’s conclusion that the defendants had waived their argument for fees under the Court inherent authority “because their briefs were ‘devoid of any citations to relevant case law’ and did not ‘advance any reasoned argument supporting such an award.’” Instead, the Court noted that the defendants “included their ‘inherent authority’ argument in the headings of their opening brief and addressed this claim in several paragraphs in their reply.” Judge Gardephe concluded that the defendants’ “moving papers are ‘devoid of any relevant citations’ or ‘reasoned argument’ on this point” but did “not hold that these deficiencies result in a waiver of the argument.” On the merits, though, the Court found that fees were not warranted under its inherent authority because “it cannot be said that Plaintiffs engaged in bad faith or vexatious conduct amounting to an abuse of the judicial proves.”
The general information and thoughts posted to this blog are provided only as an informational service to the web community and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. Nothing on this blog is intended to create an attorney-client relationship and nothing posted constitutes legal advice. You should understand that the posts by the author, who is an attorney at U.S. law firm Allegaert, Berger & Vogel, may or may not reflect the views of that firm and that the author of this blog is only authorized to practice law in the jurisdictions in which he is properly licensed to do so. For additional information, click here.