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Coach, Inc. v. Quinn

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

May 22, 2018

COACH, INC. and COACH SERVICES, INC. Plaintiffs,
v.
RAJA D. QUINN, d/b/a WHOLESALE OUTLET, a/k/a RAJA DEJOURN FASHIONS & FAWAZ MUMTAZ RETAIL OUTLET, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOHN M. GERRARD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the renewed motion for default judgment (filing 49) filed by the plaintiffs, Coach, Inc. and Coach Services, Inc. (collectively, Coach). The Court will grant the motion and award $5, 000 in damages.

         The Court's Memorandum and Order of November 2, 2017 (filing 40) set forth the Court's findings that the admitted allegations of Coach's complaint constitute a legitimate cause of action against defendant Raja Quinn for both mark infringement and unfair competition under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1051 et seq., and violation of the Nebraska Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (UDTPA), Neb. Rev. Stat. § 87-301 et seq. Filing 40 at 5-6. The Court's Memorandum and Order also set forth the Court's finding that Coach was entitled to a permanent injunction to be entered at final judgment. Filing 40 at 6-7. The only pending issues unresolved by the Court's Memorandum and Order were damages and attorney fees. See filing 40 at 11-12.

         Damages

         The Lanham Act permits a plaintiff to recover the defendant's profits, any damages sustained by the plaintiff, and the costs of the action. 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a). But in a case involving the use of a counterfeit mark, a plaintiff may instead elect to recover an award of statutory damages for any such use in connection with the sale, offering for sale, or distribution of goods or services in the amount of--

(1) not less than $1, 000 or more than $200, 000 per counterfeit mark per type of goods or services sold, offered for sale, or distributed, as the court considers just; or
(2) if the court finds that the use of the counterfeit mark was willful, not more than $2, 000, 000 per counterfeit mark per type of goods or services sold, offered for sale, or distributed, as the court considers just.

         § 1117(c). Coach has made such an election in this case.

         Coach has moved for an award of $400, 000. Filing 50 at 12. The Court has already found that Quinn's conduct was willful, and willfulness may also be inferred from a failure to defend. Filing 40 at 8. And as the Court outlined in its previous memorandum and order, § 1117(c) itself does not provide guidelines for the Court in determining an appropriate award, instead leaving it to the Court's discretion to award an amount it "considers just." Filing 40 at 7-9 (collecting cases). The Court must exercise discretion in examining whatever facts and considerations are available in a setting of limited information. Filing 40 at 9.

         The plaintiff, however, should not secure a windfall. See Yelp Inc. v. Catron, 70 F.Supp.3d 1082, 1089 (N.D. Cal. 2014); Rolls-Royce PLC v. Rolls-Royce USA, Inc., 688 F.Supp.2d 150, 157 (E.D.N.Y. 2010); Century 21 Real Estate LLC v. Bercosa Corp., 666 F.Supp.2d 274, 293 (E.D.N.Y. 2009). And, analogizing to the similarly worded statutory damages provision of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 504(c), the Court considers

(1) the defendant's expenses saved and profits reaped; (2) the plaintiff's lost revenue; (3) the value of the trademark; (4) general deterrence; (5) the willfulness of the defendant's conduct; (6) the defendant's cooperation in providing records from which to determine the value of the infringing products; and (7) specific deterrence of the defendant.

         Filing 40 at 9.

         But in this case, the Court has very little to work with when considering those factors. In its previous Memorandum and Order, the Court observed that Coach ought to be able to provide evidence of the value of its marks. Filing 40 at 10. And, the Court suggested, Coach might be able to present evidence of how much revenue a business like Quinn's would be expected to generate, or how much revenue Coach might have lost. Filing 40 at 10. "[E]vidence of hypothetical fees and projected revenues (or any other evidence Coach is able to provide) might give the Court a basis, " the Court advised, "not just to approximate profits and damages, but also determine what amount would serve as appropriate deterrence." Filing 40 at 11.

         Coach offered the Court very little additional help in that regard. See filing 50. In fact, while Coach alleged that the counterfeit sunglasses at issue here were purchased for $35, filing 1 at 12, Coach hasn't even offered the Court evidence of the retail price of a genuine pair of Coach sunglasses. Nor has Coach offered the Court anything more than speculation upon which to assess the general scope of ...


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