Property Keyed to Rabin
Packman v. Chicago Tribune Co.
In 1994, Packman (Plaintiff) began to print the phrase “the joy of six” on flyers to advertise gatherings of family and friends to watch sporting events. In 1997 and 1998, Plaintiff obtained a federal trademark for using “the joy of six” in connection with “entertainment services in the nature of football games” and in connection with “entertainment services in the nature of basketball games.” Plaintiff also printed the phrase on small quantities of hats and t-shirts to promote the gatherings. In 1996, sportswriters at the Chicago Tribune (Defendant) began to use “the joy of six” in connection with the Chicago Bulls’ anticipated sixth NBA championship. Plaintiff did not object to the use of the phrase in the newspaper but sent a letter, hat, and t-shirt to the writers to inform them of her registered trademark and to encourage them to use the phrase in their publications. In 1998, after the Bulls won the title, the Defendant ran a banner headline which read “The joy of six.” At least eight other newspapers used the phrase in their headlines that day. As it had done with other major front pages, the Defendant reproduced the entire image of the front page onto t-shirts, posters, and other memorabilia. It did so without editorial input. Eighteen months after the headline and merchandise appeared, Plaintiff accused the Defendant of trademark infringement through the use of “the joy of six” on its memorabilia. The trial judge granted the Defendant summary judgment, holding that the Defendant successfully asserted a “fair use” defense, i.e., it used the phrase in a non-trademark, good-faith, and descriptive manner. Plaintiff appealed.
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