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Judgment for Clothier in Western District Infringement Trial

Bellevue clothing designer Derek Andrew, Inc., won a copyright and trademark infringement bench trial in the Western District of Washington against defendant New York clothing designer Poof Apparel Corp. Western District Magistrate Judge James Donohue entered his findings of fact and conclusions of law on December 22.

The Western District entered a default judgment against Poof in June, which the court refused to set aside. The trial, therefore, was limited to damages and equitable relief.

The claims turned on Poof’s use of a heart design on “hangtags” it attached to its garments, which the court found constituted a false designation of origin under 15 U.S.C. Sec. 1125(a) in light of the “twisted heart” design hangtags that Derek Andrew had previously used.

The court found that Poof’s violation was willful. Therefore, in addition to $15,000 in statutory damages it awarded under the Copyright Act, the court ordered Poof to disgorge the $685,307.70 in profits it had received from infringing sales.

The court also found that Poof’s infringement met the Ninth Circuit’s “malicious, fraudulent, deliberate or willful” standard for “exceptional” cases under the Lanham Act and awarded Derek Andrew its reasonable attorney’s fees. The amount will be determined following Derek Andrew’s fee application, which the court requested within 14 days.

Finally, the court imposed a permanent injunction enjoining Poof from directly or indirectly infringing the “twisted heart” hangtag that was both the subject of the suit and Derek Andrew’s copyright registration.

The Western District’s PACER database flagged this case as one primarily involving copyright rather than trademark issues, so it did not come to my attention until Westlaw published the court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law. PACER is an excellent resource, but it does have its shortcomings.

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