Gibson Guitar Corp. v. Viacom International Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Trademarks
  • Date Filed: 03-08-2013
  • Case #: WL 877967
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Pregerson
  • Full Text Opinion

A plaintiff must effectively plead that an infringing product is actually in the market to state a claim of trademark infringement.

Opinion (Pregerson): Viacom, owner of the SpongeBob SquarePants trademark, licensed its mark to John Hornby Skewes & Co. Ltd (JHS) of London to produce the SpongeBob SquarePants Flying V Ukulele (Ukulele). While Viacom had the rights to the SpongeBob Trademark, Gibson Guitar Corporation (Gibson) owns the trademarks in the Flying V Body Shape Design, the Flying V Peg-Head Design, and a word mark in Flying V. Gibson claimed the Ukulele, and potentially other products, associated with Viacom and JHS violated its trademark. Viacom asserted that Gibson had not properly made a complaint, and did not establish that these products were effectively being sold on the market. The court restated the Twombly and Iqbal standards for stating a claim, and determined that despite Gibson asserting after the fact that the products were on the market, the lack of specificity in the complaint made it difficult to determine which party was responsible for which accusations. The Court GRANTED Viacom’s motion to dismiss.

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