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No Fees Award in Mother v. LL Bean Trade Dress Case

I’ve probably over-done my coverage of this case, but it’s been a fun one. To close the loop, I’ll just say that on Oct. 26, the Western District declined to award L.L. Bean, Inc., attorney’s fees, which L.L. Bean sought after obtaining dismissal of Mother, LLC’s trade dress infringement claims as a matter of law at the close of trial.

After noting that fees awards are discretionary and the Ninth Circuit has “set the bar fairly high with regard to what constitutes ‘exceptional,’” the court explained its decision as follows:

“The court found this case distinguishable from many, in that the parties had entered into a contractual arrangement regarding the sale and marketing of the plaintiff’s upland hunting vest by defendant. Defendant’s conduct was more than suspect from an equitable perspective, but because Congress was careful not to stifle competition, the plaintiff had a significant burden in establishing a prima facie case of trade dress infringement. The court’s oral opinion sets forth the basis for granting the defendants’ motion at the end of the plaintiff’s case and need not be repeated here. It was not based on allegations which were vexatious and/or made in bad faith. This case was, in fact, one of the few where equity and empathy favored the plaintiff and in the final analysis the law favored the defendant.”

The case cite is Mother, LLC v. L.L. Bean, Inc., No. 06-5540, 2007 WL 3223223 (W.D. Wash.).

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