Civil Procedure Keyed to Hazard
Levy v. Kosher Overseers Assoc. of America, Inc.
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Rabbi Don Yoel Levy and Eliezer Levy (Plaintiff) own and operate a company that certified certain food manufacturers as kosher for use by Jewish individuals. Plaintiff, one of many kosher certifying organizations, had its own unique mark that it placed on food products it certified as kosher. Each organization employs its own unique standards for what constitutes a kosher product, so it is important for consumers to understand which organization certifies a given food product. Kosher marks are protected by trademark law and are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Plaintiff held a trademark for its mark since 1965. The Kosher Overseers Association of America (Defendant) sought to register its own kosher marking in 1989 with the Patent and Trademark Office. Plaintiff contested the application, arguing that Defendant’s mark was too similar to Plaintiff’s. The Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) heard the matter and, after comparing the two marks, refused to register Defendant’s mark. Following the TTAB’s holding, Defendant continued to use the mark on products it certified. Plaintiff sued Defendant in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking to permanently enjoin Defendant from using the mark. Plaintiff argued that the use of such a mark would constitute trademark infringement. Plaintiff moved for summary judgment, arguing that the TTAB decision constituted collateral estoppel. The district court agreed and granted a permanent injunction on Defendant. Defendant appealed.
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