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Trademark Dispute Over "Bottled at the Source" Not Exceptional

Water bottler CG Roxane LLC, seller of “Crystal Geyser“-branded water, obtained a registered trademark for BOTTLED AT THE SOURCE. It subsequently sued competing water bottler Fiji Water Co. LLC for labeling its water as being the “bottled at the source.”

The Northern District of California rejected CG Roxane’s claims. It found on summary judgment that CG Roxane’s registration was invalid because BOTTLED AT THE SOURCE is generic or at most descriptive, and CG Roxane had failed to prove secondary meaning. The court also found no likelihood of confusion between the parties’ use of the alleged marks. (For further detail on the summary judgment decision, see the Aug. 21 post from Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log.)

After winning its motion for summary judgment, Fiji filed a motion for an award of attorney’s fees.

On Oct. 10, the court denied the motion.

“The defendant alleges the plaintiff filed this case ‘as leverage for a quick settlement that could be used to hammer other competitors into pseudo-legal submission’ and requests the court grant attorneys’ fees in the amount of $325,951.98. Defendant further alleges that the suit was groundless, the trademark registration was based on false information, and that the plaintiff’s conduct in this litigation was in bad faith.

“The defendant presents no compelling proof that this suit was groundless. Prior to … initiating the suit, the plaintiff registered and was granted a registered trademark by the USPTO. Registration of a mark with the USPTO is prima facie evidence of the mark’s validity and of the plaintiff’s exclusive right to use the mark as defined by its registration.”

Given that registration, the court found plaintiff’s claim for trademark infringement was colorable, not exceptional.

The case cite is CG Roxane LLC v. Fiji Water Co. LLC, 2008 WL 4542803, No. 07-2258 (N.D. Calif. Oct. 10, 2008) (Whyte, J.).

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