332 F.3d 915 (6th Cir. 2003), 00-3584, ETW Corp. v. Jireh Pub., Inc.

Docket Nº:00-3584
Citation:332 F.3d 915
Party Name:ETW Corp. v. Jireh Pub., Inc.
Case Date:June 20, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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332 F.3d 915 (6th Cir. 2003)

67 U.S.P.Q.2d 1065

ETW CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Appellant,


JIREH PUBLISHING, INC., Defendant-Appellee.

No. 00-3584.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

June 20, 2003.

Argued: Sept. 14, 2001.

Rehearing En Banc Denied Sept. 8, 2003. [*], [**]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Thomas G. Kovach (briefed), Thomas S. Babel, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, Cleveland, OH, Terence J. Clark (argued and briefed), Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, Los Angeles, CA, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Dennis J. Niermann (argued and briefed), Dennis J. Niermann Co., Cleveland, OH, for Defendant-Appellee.

Lynda M. Braun (briefed), Bruce S. Meyer (briefed), Weil, Gotshal & Manges, New York, NY, for Amicus Curiae.

Russell S. Jones, Jr. (briefed), Shughart, Thomson & Kilroy, Kansas City, MO, for Amicus Curiae.

Joseph A. Kohanski (briefed), Geffner & Bush, Burbank, CA, for Amicus Curiae.

Mark S. Lee, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, Los Angeles, CA, for Amicus Curiae.

Diane L. Zimmerman (briefed), New York University Law School, New York, NY, for Amicus Curiae.

Adam B. Liptak (briefed), New York Times Company Legal Department, New York, NY, for Amicus Curiae.

James E. Hough (briefed), Morrison & Foerster, New York, NY, for Amicus Curiae.

Lucy A. Dalglish (briefed), The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Arlington, VA, for Amicus Curiae.

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J. Michael Murray (argued and briefed), Lorraine R. Baumgardner (briefed), Berkman, Gordon, Murray & DeVan, Cleveland, OH, for Amicus Curiae.

Before SILER and CLAY, Circuit Judges; GRAHAM, District Judge. [*]

GRAHAM, D.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which SILER, J., joined. CLAY, J. (pp. 938-960), delivered a separate dissenting opinion.


GRAHAM, District Judge.

Plaintiff-Appellant ETW Corporation ("ETW") is the licensing agent of Eldrick "Tiger" Woods ("Woods"), one of the world's most famous professional golfers. Woods, chairman of the board of ETW, has assigned to it the exclusive right to exploit his name, image, likeness, and signature, and all other publicity rights. ETW owns a United States trademark registration for the mark "TIGER WOODS" (Registration No. 2,194,381) for use in connection with "art prints, calendars, mounted photographs, notebooks, pencils, pens, posters, trading cards, and unmounted photographs."

Defendant-Appellee Jireh Publishing, Inc. ("Jireh") of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is the publisher of artwork created by Rick Rush ("Rush"). Rush, who refers to himself as "America's sports artist," has created paintings of famous figures in sports and famous sports events. A few examples include Michael Jordan, Mark McGuire, Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, the Pebble Beach Golf Tournament, and the America's Cup Yacht Race. Jireh has produced and successfully marketed limited edition art prints made from Rush's paintings.

In 1998, Rush created a painting entitled The Masters of Augusta, which commemorates Woods's victory at the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, in 1997. At that event, Woods became the youngest player ever to win the Masters Tournament, while setting a 72-hole record for the tournament and a record 12-stroke margin of victory. In the foreground of Rush's painting are three views of Woods in different poses. In the center, he is completing the swing of a golf club, and on each side he is crouching, lining up and/or observing the progress of a putt. To the left of Woods is his caddy, Mike "Fluff" Cowan, and to his right is his final round partner's caddy. Behind these figures is the Augusta National Clubhouse. In a blue background behind the clubhouse are likenesses of famous golfers of the past looking down on Woods. These include Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, and Jack Nicklaus. Behind them is the Masters leader board.

The limited edition prints distributed by Jireh consist of an image of Rush's painting which includes Rush's signature at the bottom right hand corner. Beneath the image of the painting, in block letters, is its title, "The Masters Of Augusta." Beneath the title, in block letters of equal height, is the artist's name, "Rick Rush," and beneath the artist's name, in smaller upper and lower case letters, is the legend "Painting America Through Sports."

As sold by Jireh, the limited edition prints are enclosed in a white envelope, accompanied with literature which includes a large photograph of Rush, a description of his art, and a narrative description of the subject painting. On the front of the envelope, Rush's name appears in block

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letters inside a rectangle, which includes the legend "Painting America Through Sports." Along the bottom is a large reproduction of Rush's signature two inches high and ten inches long. On the back of the envelope, under the flap, are the words "Masters of Augusta" in letters that are three-eights of an inch high, and "Tiger Woods" in letters that are one-fourth of an inch high. Woods's name also appears in the narrative description of the painting where he is mentioned twice in twenty-eight lines of text. The text also includes references to the six other famous golfers depicted in the background of the painting as well as the two caddies. 1 Jireh published and marketed two hundred and fifty 22 1/2"' X 30"' serigraphs and five thousand 9"' X 11"' lithographs of The Masters of Augusta at an issuing price of $700 for the serigraphs and $100 for the lithographs.

ETW filed suit against Jireh on June 26, 1998, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, alleging trademark infringement in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1114; dilution of the mark under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c); unfair competition and false advertising under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a); unfair competition and deceptive trade practices under Ohio Revised Code § 4165.01; unfair competition and trademark infringement under Ohio common law; and violation of Woods's right of publicity under Ohio common law. Jireh counterclaimed, seeking a declaratory judgment that Rush's art prints are protected by the First Amendment and do not violate the Lanham Act. Both parties moved for summary judgment.

The district court granted Jireh's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case. See ETW Corp. v. Jireh Pub., Inc., 99 F.Supp.2d 829 (N.D.Ohio 2000). ETW timely perfected an appeal to this court.

I. Standard of Review

We review the district court's grant of summary judgment de novo. Sperle v. Michigan Dep't of Corr.,

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297 F.3d 483, 490 (6th Cir. 2002). Summary judgment is proper where there exists no issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In considering such a motion, the court construes all reasonable factual inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). The central issue is "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

II. Trademark Claims Based on the Unauthorized Use of the Registered Trademark "Tiger Woods"

ETW claims that the prints of Rush's work constitute the unauthorized use of a registered trademark in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1114, and Ohio law. Because trademark claims under Ohio law follow the same analysis as those under the Lanham Act, our discussion of the federal trademark claims will therefore encompass the state trademark claims as well. 2 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum, Inc. v. Gentile Prods., 134 F.3d 749, 754 (6th Cir. 1998)(citing Daddy's Junky Music Stores, Inc. v. Big Daddy's Family Music Ctr., 109 F.3d 275, 288 (6th Cir. 1997)).

ETW claims that Jireh infringed the registered mark "Tiger Woods" by including these words in marketing materials which accompanied the prints of Rush's painting. The words "Tiger Woods" do not appear on the face of the prints, nor are they included in the title of the painting. The words "Tiger Woods" do appear under the flap of the envelopes which contain the prints, and Woods is mentioned twice in the narrative which accompanies the prints.

The Lanham Act provides a defense to an infringement claim where the use of the mark "is a use, otherwise than as a mark, ... which is descriptive of and used fairly and in good faith only to describe the goods ... of such party [.]" 15 U.S.C. § 1115(b)(4); see San Francisco Arts and Athletics, Inc. v. U.S. Olympic Comm., 483 U.S. 522, 565, 107 S.Ct. 2971, 97 L.Ed.2d 427 (1987); Herman Miller, Inc. v. Palazzetti Imports and Exports, Inc., 270 F.3d 298, 319 (6th Cir. 2001)("Under the doctrine of 'fair use,' the holder of a trademark cannot prevent others from using the word that forms the trademark in its primary or descriptive sense.")(emphasis in the original); Car-Freshner Corp. v. S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., 70 F.3d 267, 270 (2nd Cir. 1995)("[F]air use permits others to use a protected mark to describe aspects of their own goods [.]"). In evaluating a defendant's fair use defense, a court must consider whether defendant has used the mark: (1) in its descriptive sense; and (2) in good faith. Victoria's Secret Stores v. Artco Equip. Co., 194 F.Supp.2d 704, 724 (S.D.Ohio 2002); see also Cairns v. Franklin Mint Co., 292 F.3d 1139, 1151 (9th Cir. 2002).

A celebrity's name may be used in the title of an artistic work so long as there is some artistic relevance. See Rogers v. Grimaldi, 875 F.2d 994, 997 (2nd Cir. 1989); New York Racing Ass'n v. Perlmutter Publ'g, Inc., No. 95-CV-994, 1996 WL 465298 at *4 (N.D.N.Y. July 19, 1996) (finding the use of a registered mark on the title of a painting protected by the First...

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