82 F.3d 542 (1st Cir. 1996), 95-1975, TEC Engineering Corp. v. Budget Molders Supply, Inc.

Docket Nº:95-1975.
Citation:82 F.3d 542
Party Name:38 U.S.P.Q.2d 1787 TEC ENGINEERING CORP., Plaintiff, Appellee, v. BUDGET MOLDERS SUPPLY, INC. and Plastic Process Equipment, Inc., Defendants, Appellants.
Case Date:April 30, 1996
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Page 542

82 F.3d 542 (1st Cir. 1996)

38 U.S.P.Q.2d 1787

TEC ENGINEERING CORP., Plaintiff, Appellee,


BUDGET MOLDERS SUPPLY, INC. and Plastic Process Equipment,

Inc., Defendants, Appellants.

No. 95-1975.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

April 30, 1996

Heard Jan. 11, 1996.

Page 543

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts; Hon. Nathaniel M. Gorton, U.S. District Judge.

Louis M. Ciavarra with whom Barry A. Bachrach and Bowditch & Dewey were on brief, Worcester, MA, for appellants.

James C. Donnelly, Jr. with whom Charles B. Straus, III and Mirick, O'Connell, Demallie & Lougee were on brief, Worcester, MA, for appellee.

CYR, BOUDIN and STAHL, Circuit Judges.

STAHL, Circuit Judge.

Budget Molders Supply, Inc., and Plastic Process Equipment, Inc., (collectively "Budget") appeal from a preliminary order enjoining them from manufacturing, marketing or distributing certain industrial conveyors alleged to be confusingly similar to conveyors manufactured and sold by appellee, TEC Engineering Corp. ("TEC"). Because the district court failed to make findings of fact and conclusions of law sufficient to support its decision as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a), we modify the injunction and remand for further proceedings.


Background 1

TEC manufactures a series of conveyors under the model name "Ultraline," which it markets primarily to the plastics processing industry. The conveyors are generally used to transport lightweight plastic products from molding machines in which they are formed to other machines for packaging. TEC sells the Ultraline conveyors under the TEC name through independent sales representatives. In addition, TEC authorizes an independent distributor, Injection Molders Supply, Inc. ("IMS"), to advertise, promote and sell Ultraline conveyors under the IMS tradename through IMS's own product catalogues. In 1994, combined domestic and international

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sales of Ultraline conveyors exceeded 2,000 units, generating revenues of approximately $3 million.

Budget has competed with TEC and other conveyor manufacturers in the plastics processing industry market for over five years. Budget markets its conveyors exclusively through direct-catalogue sales. About January 1995, Budget decided to modify the design of its primary line of conveyors. Consequently, Budget soon began to market a redesigned conveyor under the "Supraline" model name that closely resembled TEC's Ultraline conveyor. Budget labels each Supraline conveyor with the name "Budget Molders Supply, Inc." in several different places on the machine. While these Budget labels cannot be seen in every advertisement photograph of a Supraline conveyor included in the record, each Supraline advertisement prominently features the Budget name (although not necessarily on the pictured conveyor), and several include the statement "Made in the USA by Budget."

It appears largely undisputed that the two conveyors, when placed side by side, are strikingly similar in appearance. Many of the similarities shared by the two machines, however, are to some extent functional. In addition, the record includes several advertisements for conveyors sold by companies other than TEC or Budget. These conveyors, at least as they...

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