Coach, Inc. v. Goodfellow

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Trademarks, Contributory Infringement
  • Date Filed: 05-31-2013
  • Case #: 12 5666
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • LexisNexis Citation: 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 10976
  • Westlaw Citation: 2013 WL 2364091
  • Full Text Opinion

Flea market operator may be contributorily liable for trademark infringement of vendors if the operator knew or had reason to know of the infringement yet continues to facilitate the infringement.

Opinion (McKeague): Coach, Inc., ("Coach") a product designer, brought action against Goodfellow, a flea market operator in Memphis, Tenessee, for contributory trademark infringement. The district court granted Coach’s motion for summary judgment. Goodfellow appealed. Whether a flea market operator could be held contributory liable for trademark infringement by vendors was an issue of first impression in the Sixth Circuit. Goodfellow owned and oversaw the day-to-day operations of the flea market. The flea market rented booths and storage units to vendors. Both Coach and the District Attorney General sent letters to Goodfellow notifying him of counterfeit sales of Coach products at the flea market. Law enforcement officers raided and seized counterfeit Coach products from the flea market several times. Goodfellow distributed pamphlets to vendors and called a meeting with vendors to address the selling of counterfeit goods. Goodfellow did not investigate vendors goods nor were any vendors ever expelled or rejected for selling counterfeit goods. The Court found that Goodfellow was contributorily liable because he knew or had reason to know of the infringing activities and he “continued to facilitate those activities by providing space and storage units without undertaking a reasonable investigation or taking other appropriate remedial measures.” The appellate court AFFIRMED the judgment of the district court.

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