510 F.2d 1004 (5th Cir. 1975), 73--2592, Boston Professional Hockey Ass'n, Inc. v. Dallas Cap & Emblem Mfg., Inc.

Docket Nº:73--2592.
Citation:510 F.2d 1004
Party Name:258 BOSTON PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY ASSOCIATION, INC., et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. DALLAS CAP & EMBLEM MFG., INC., Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:April 07, 1975
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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510 F.2d 1004 (5th Cir. 1975)





DALLAS CAP & EMBLEM MFG., INC., Defendant-Appellee.

No. 73--2592.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

April 7, 1975

Rehearing Denied June 4, 1975.

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J. Manuel Hoppenstein, William D. Harris, Jr., Roger C. Clapp, Dallas, Tex., for defendant-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Before BROWN, Chief Judge, and GODBOLD and RONEY, Circuit Judges.

RONEY, Circuit Judge:

Nearly everyone is familiar with the artistic symbols which designate the individual teams in various professional sports. The question in this case of first impression is whether the unauthorized, intentional duplication of a professional hockey team's symbol on an embroidered emblem, to be sold to the public as a patch for attachment to clothing, violates any legal right of the team to the exclusive use of that symbol. Contrary to the decision of the district court, we hold that the team has an interest in its own individualized symbol entitled to legal protection against such unauthorized duplication.

The National Hockey League (NHL) and thirteen of its member hockey teams 1 brought this action to enjoin Dallas Cap & Emblem Manufacturing, Inc., from manufacturing and selling embroidered emblems depicting their trademarks. All plaintiffs assert a cause of action for common law unfair competition. The NHL and twelve of the plaintiff teams have secured federal registration of their team symbols as service marks for ice hockey entertainment services and seek relief under both provisions of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C.A. §§ 1114, 1125, which give statutory protection to such marks. The Toronto team has not secured federal registration of its symbol and, thus, has not alleged a cause of action against defendant for infringement of a registered mark under 15 U.S.C.A. § 1114, but is restricted to § 1125 which can encompass unregistered marks. The Vancouver team did not secure registration until after the alleged infringing act and has used only for injunctive relief under § 1114, not for damages. None of the symbols of the various teams have been copyrighted.

The district court denied Lanham Act relief and granted only limited relief for unfair competition, requiring solely that defendant place on the emblems or the package a notice that the emblems are not authorized by or have not emanated from the plaintiffs. The claim for damages was denied.

The Facts

The controlling facts of the case at bar are relatively uncomplicated and uncontested. Plaintiffs play ice hockey professionally. In producing and promoting the sport of ice hockey, plaintiffs have each adopted and widely publicized individual team symbols. During the 1971--72 season, more than eight million fans attended NHL games where they saw the team marks displayed on the jerseyfronts of the players and throughout the game programs. For each game on national television, between ten and twenty million hockey enthusiasts saw plaintiffs' marks. Other fans observed the team marks during more than 300 locally televised games a season and on a weekly television series entitled 'National Hockey League Action' which is syndicated in over 100 markets. These figures do not include the millions who were exposed to plaintiffs' marks through sporting news coverage in newspapers, magazines and on television.

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Plaintiffs have authorized National Hockey League Services, Inc. (NHLS) to act as their exclusive licensing agent. NHLS has licensed various manufacturers to use the team symbols on merchandise and has granted to one manufacturer, Lion Brothers Company, Inc., the exclusive license to manufacture embroidered emblems depicting the marks in question. In the spring of 1972, NHLS authorized the sale of NHL team emblems in connection with the sale of Kraft candies. That promotion alone was advertised on more than five million bags of candy.

Defendant Dallas Cap & Emblem Manufacturing, Inc., is in the business of making and selling embroidered cloth emblems. In August of 1968 and June of 1971, defendant sought to obtain from NHLS an exclusive license to make embroidered emblems representing the team motifs. Although these negotiations were unsuccessful, defendant went ahead and manufactured and sold without authorization emblems which were substantial duplications of the marks. During the month of April 1972, defendant sold approximately 24,603 of these emblems to sporting goods stores in various states. Defendant deliberately reproduced plaintiffs' marks on embroidered emblems and intended the consuming public to recognize the emblems as the symbols of the various hockey teams and to purchase them as such.

The Law

The complaint alleged that defendant's manufacture and sale of the team symbols constitutes (1) an infringement of the plaintiffs' registered marks in violation of 15 U.S.C.A. § 1114; 2 (2) false designation of origin in violation of 15 U.S.C.A. § 1125; 3 and (3) common law unfair competition.

The statutory cause of action emanates from what is commonly called the Lanham Act. 15 U.S.C.A. § 1051 et seq. The Lanham Act defines a service mark as 'a mark used in the sale or advertising of services to identify the services of one person and distinguish them from the services of others' and a trademark as 'any word, name, symbol, or device or any combination thereof adopted and used by a manufacturer or merchant to identify his goods and distinguish them from those manufactured or sold by others.' 15 U.S.C.A. § 1127. Service mark infringement and trademark infringement are governed by identical standards. The terms can be used interchangeably when the marks are both service marks and trademarks. For convenience we use the word trademark in this opinion to designate both service mark and trademark use of the symbols involved.

A cause of action for the infringement of a registered mark in violation of 15 U.S.C.A. § 1114 exists where a person uses (1) any reproduction, counterfeit, copy or colorable imitation of a mark; (2) without the registrant's consent; (3) in commerce; (4) in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution or advertising of any goods; (5) where such use is likely to cause confusion,

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or to cause mistake or to deceive. A broadening of the protection afforded by the statute...

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