Wag'N Enterprises, LLC v. United Animal Nations
MEMORANDUM OPINION: In sum, there are no material facts in dispute as to the likelihood of confusion between plaintiff's and defendant's marks. The record clearly shows that plaintiff's and defendant's marks are very dissimilar; & quot;Wag'N Rover Respond'R" and "Rover Respond'R" are extremely weak marks; plaintiff cannot show that even a single consumer has in fact been confused by the use of defendant's mark; and there is no evidence ofdefe ndant acting in bad faith in adopting its mark. For all of these reasons, the Court finds that defendant's use of "RedRover Responders" does not infringe plaintiff's "Wag'N Rover Respond'R" or "Rover Respo nd'R" marks. Accordingly, defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted and plaintiff's Motion will be denied by an Order to accompany this Memorandum Opinion.Signed by District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema on 05/09/12. (yguy)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA
CLERK, U.S. DISTRICT COURT
UNITED ANIMAL NATIONS,
Before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary
For the reasons discussed below, plaintiff's motion
will be denied, defendant's motion will be granted, and summary
judgment will be entered in favor of the defendant.
Plaintiff Wag'N Enterprises, LLC ("Wag'N") has alleged
infringement of its registered service mark in the term "Wag'N
Rover Respond'R," which is used in connection with "providing
emergency care notification, namely, providing pet owners with a
24 hour number to call in case they get injured during a car
accident to allow temporary pet care, and contacting of family
and friends to pick up and care for pets involved in the
Schiffren Mot. Decl. Ex. C (United States Patent and
Trademark Office ("USPTO") service mark Principal Register).
Plaintiff also claims trademark rights in the term "Rover
Respond'R," an unregistered shortened form of the registered
Wag'N is a one-person limited liability company headed by
Ines de Pablo and located in Herndon, Virginia.
2007, it provides a variety of pet products geared toward animal
Specifically at issue in this action is plaintiff's
Wag'N Rover Respond'R "Mobile Emergency Information Kit," which
includes a mobile emergency pocket folder, vehicle and home
alert decals, animal transport forms, a pet passport documenting
veterinary record information, and a CD-ROM with interactive
forms, such as an emergency contact form and printable lost pet
See Schiffren Opp'n Decl. Ex. H; see also Summary
Judgment Hearing Ex. 1.
The kit is described as "[a] step-by-
step documentation toolkit that provides First Responders the
necessary information they need to better help you and your pet
in case of an emergency."
See Summary Judgment Hearing Ex. 1.
The outer packaging of the kit and its contents1 are the only
products on which plaintiff places the mark "Wag'N Rover
De Pablo Dep. at 129:20-130:4.
In addition to the
kit, plaintiff uses the "Wag'N Rover Respond'R" mark on its
website to promote the kit.
Customers can also enroll in a
1 The home alert decals do not have the "Wag'n Rover Respond'R"
mark on them.
membership program which provides members online account access
and a 24/7 Wag'N emergency phone number.
See Schiffren Mot.
Decl. Ex. F at W21; Schiffren Opp'n Decl. Ex. H at W70.
Wag'N Rover Respond'R program was launched on August 20, 2008
and the mark was registered on December 9, 2008. Schiffren Mot.
Decl. Ex. F at W41; Schiffren Reply Decl. Ex. M.
Defendant United Animal Nations is a California non-profit
service organization established in 1987, which provides
"emergency sheltering, disaster relief and financial assistance
for animals in crisis."
Forsyth Decl. Ex. D (June 11, 2011
In June 2011, defendant changed its name to
"RedRover" and altered its program names accordingly.
Among other services, defendant runs a "RedRover Responders"
program, which utilizes volunteers to "shelter and care for
animals displaced by natural disasters and reconnect them to
The program also provides shelter and care
services for animals rescued from abusive situations.
Plaintiff contends that the "RedRover Responders" name
infringes its claimed trademark rights in "Wag'N Rover
Respond'R" and "Rover Respond'R."
The complaint alleges federal
causes of action for trademark infringement under 15 U.S.C.
§ 1114(1) and unfair competition under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a), as
well as common law trademark infringement and unfair
Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief only, as it has
conceded that it has suffered no monetary damages.
Berkowitz Mot. Decl. Ex. J at 9 (Wag'N response to Interrogatory
STANDARD OF REVIEW
"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Civ. P. 56(a).
A genuine dispute of material fact exists "if
the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
The Court must view the record
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Bryant
v. Bell Atl. Md., Inc., 288 F.3d 124, 132 (4th Cir. 2002).
moving party must initially show the absence of a genuine
dispute of material fact, and once it has met its burden, the
nonmovant "must come forward and show that a genuine dispute
exists." Arrington v. ER Williams, Inc., No. I:llcv535, 2011
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144909, at *11-12 (E.D. Va. Dec. 16, 2011)
(Cacheris, J.) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
325 (1986) and Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986)).
The nonmoving party,
however, "must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts."
U.S. at 586.
Accordingly, the "mere existence of a scintilla of
evidence in support of the [nonmovant's] position will be
insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could
reasonably find for the [nonmovant]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.
"[wjhere the record taken as a whole could not lead a
rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party," summary
judgment is appropriate.
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587.
To prevail on both its federal and common law claims,
plaintiff must show that it holds a valid and protectable mark
and that defendant's use of its mark causes a likelihood of
confusion in consumers.
George & Co., LLC v. Imagination Entm't
Ltd., 575 F.3d 383, 393 (4th Cir. 2009); Lone Star Steakhouse &
Saloon v. Alpha of Va., Inc., 43 F.3d 922, 930 n.10 (4th Cir.
1995) ("The test for trademark infringement and unfair
competition under the Lanham Act is essentially the same as that
for common law unfair competition under Virginia law....").
Although determining the likelihood of confusion is "inherently
factual" and "depends on the facts and circumstances in each
case," Rosetta Stone Ltd. v. Google, Inc., 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS
7082, at *15 (4th Cir. Apr. 9, 2012) (quoting Lone Star, 43 F.3d
at 933), summary judgment may still be appropriate where "the
evidence is so one-sided that there can be no doubt about how
the question should be answered."
Retail Servs., Inc. v.
Freebies Publ'g, 247 F. Supp. 2d 822, 825 (E.D. Va. 2003)
(quoting Door Sys., Inc. v. Pro-Line Door Sys., Inc., 83 F.3d
171 (7th Cir. 1996)).
In evaluating whether a likelihood of confusion exists,
courts in the Fourth Circuit consider seven factors: "a) the
strength or distinctiveness of the mark; b) the similarity of
the two marks; c) the similarity of the goods/services the marks
identify; d) the similarity of the facilities the two parties
use in their businesses; e) the similarity of the advertising
used by the two parties; f) the defendant's intent; [and] g)
Pizzeria Uno Corp. v. Temple, 747 F.2d 1522,
1527 (4th Cir. 1984) (citing Sun-Fun Prods, v. Suntan Research &
Dev., 656 F.2d 186, 189 (5th Cir. 1981)).
The quality of the
defendant's product and the level of sophistication of consumers
are also considered.
George & Co., 575 F.3d at 393.
Circuit has cautioned, however, that "not all these factors are
always relevant or equally emphasized in each case."
747 F.2d at 1527 (citation and alteration omitted).
A. Trademark Status of Plaintiff's Marks
Defendant does not contest that plaintiff's registered
mark, "Wag'N Rover Respond'R," is a protected trademark.
Def.'s Opp'n at 7.
Plaintiff also alleges, however, that
defendant infringes "Rover Respond'R," a shortened version of
the registered mark.
See Schiffren Opp'n Decl. Ex. H
(collection of Wag'N advertisements and other materials,
including a Fido Friendly advertisement referring to "Rover
It is undisputed that "Rover Respond'R" is
not a federally registered trademark,2 and plaintiff has never
sought to register the mark with the USPTO.
See De Pablo Dep.
at 85:16-86:4 (explaining that Wag'N has applied for federal
trademark registration for 43 marks but not for "Rover
Trademark protection is still available for an
unregistered mark if the mark is used in commerce and is
See Int'l Bancorp, LLC v. Societe Des Bains De Mer
Et Du Cercle Des Estrangers a Monaco, 329 F.3d 359, 363 (4th
Cir. 2003); Lone Star, 43 F.3d at 930 n.10.
Defendant does not
appear to dispute that the unregistered mark has been used in
commerce, but does argue that it is not sufficiently distinctive
to qualify for trademark protection.
The spectrum of distinctiveness ranges from fanciful marks,
which consist of "made-up words" such as "Xerox," which were
"created for the sole purpose of serving as a trademark," George
& Co., 575 F.3d at 394, to generic marks, such as the word
"computer" to refer to a computer.
Between the two extremes are
Defendant makes much of the fact that plaintiff's website
represents "Rover Respond'R" as being registered with the USPTO
and alleges that plaintiff's "unclean hands" in this regard
should preclude its action for infringement. Because plaintiff
fails to satisfy the Pizzeria Uno factors, defendant's argument
need not be considered.
arbitrary, suggestive, and descriptive marks, the last of which
requires a finding of secondary meaning in order to be eligible
for trademark protection.
Secondary meaning exists "if in the
minds of the public, the primary significance of a product
feature or term is to identify the source of the product rather
than the product itself."
Sara Lee Corp. v. Kayser-Roth Corp.,
81 F.3d 455, 464 (4th Cir.
(citation and internal
quotation marks omitted).
Plaintiff's contention that "Rover Respond'R" is an
arbitrary mark is unpersuasive.
Arbitrary marks "involve common
words that have no connection with the actual product," which is
not the case here.
George & Co., 575 F.3d at 394.
"Rover" is a
common name for dogs, and when used as a verb, suggests movement
The dictionary definition of "responder" is "a
person or thing that responds," meaning "to act in reply" or
See Berkowitz Mot. Decl. Exs. F & G (dictionary
Plaintiff's own statements indicate that she
chose "Rover" and "Respond'R" precisely because of these common
See De Pablo Dep. at 67:13-22.
Indeed, the USPTO
required plaintiff to disclaim the word "responder" (spelled
correctly) in order to register the full-length version of the
mark ("Wag'N Rover Respond'R") because "it merely describes that
the services act as a 'responder' in that they provide a
response to the consumer's needs."
See Berkowitz Mot. Decl. Ex.
B (July 2, 2008 priority action).
For these reasons, the words
are not arbitrarily assigned to plaintiff's product.
"Generally speaking, if the mark imparts information
directly, it is descriptive.
If it stands for an idea which
requires some operation of the imagination to connect it with
the goods, it is suggestive."
Pizzeria Uno, 747 F.2d at 1528
(quoting Union Carbide Corp. v. Ever-Ready, Inc., 531 F.2d 366,
379 (7th Cir. 1976)).
Here, although the words "rover" and
"responder" are linked to the purpose of the product, they are
not merely descriptive.
The two words themselves do not
automatically conjure an image or understanding of the nature of
Wag'N's emergency kits, as one can imagine many items that could
"rove" or "respond" that bear no resemblance to plaintiff's
See PL's Opp'n at 15 n.l.
"Rover Respond'R" is thus
suggestive in that it "connotes, without describing, some
quality, ingredient, or characteristic of the product."
81 F.3d at 464.
Because "Rover Respond'R" is suggestive, it does not
require secondary meaning in order to be protectable as a
Retail Servs., Inc. v. Freebies Publ'g, 364 F.3d
535, 539 (4th Cir. 2004).
Accordingly, the Court finds that the
unregistered mark "Rover Respond'R" is eligible for trademark
B. Likelihood of Confusion
Having established that plaintiff's two claimed marks are
subject to trademark protection, the only remaining issue is
whether defendant's "RedRover Responders" mark is confusingly
similar to plaintiff's marks.
The Court will discuss each of
the Pizzeria Uno factors, beginning with those that are most
compelling in this case: the weakness of plaintiff's mark; the
dissimilarity of the marks; the lack of actual confusion on the
part of consumers; and the lack of bad faith on the part of the
1. Strength of the marks
The strength of a plaintiff's mark is an important factor
in the likelihood of confusion analysis, because "the stronger
the mark, the greater the likelihood that consumers will be
confused by competing uses of the mark."
George & Co., 575 F.3d
A mark's conceptual strength is measured by its level
of distinctiveness—i.e., whether it is generic, descriptive,
suggestive, arbitrary, or fanciful.
As with the unregistered mark, all three words in the
registered "Wag'N Rover Respond'R" mark are linked to the
purpose of the emergency kit product.
Specifically, the name of
the company, "Wag'N," is clearly meant to invoke pets' wagging
And as discussed above, the words "rover" and
"responder" evoke images related to the pet emergency
preparation nature of the product.
Plaintiff correctly argues,
however, that the USPTO's registration of the mark on the
Principal Register without requiring a showing of secondary
meaning is prima facie evidence that the mark is
See id. at 395.
Defendant has not attempted to
rebut this presumption, and accordingly, the Court concludes
that the "Wag'N Rover Respond'R" mark is suggestive.
suggestive marks, both "Wag'N Rover Respond'R" and "Rover
Respond'R" fall in the middle of the spectrum of distinctiveness
and the resulting conceptual strength.
In addition to its distinctiveness, a mark's strength or
weakness is also influenced by its commercial strength.
Commercial strength is evaluated by considering factors similar
to those used in the analysis of a mark's secondary meaning,
including "(1) the plaintiff's advertising expenditures; (2)
consumer studies linking the mark to a source;
plaintiff's record of sales success;
(4) unsolicited media
coverage of the plaintiff's business; (5) attempts to plagiarize
the mark; and (6) the length and exclusivity of the plaintiff's
use of the mark."
Inc., 915 F.2d 121,
Id. (citing Perini Corp. v. Perini Constr.,
125 (4th Cir. 1990)).
As an initial matter, in its response to defendant's
interrogatories, plaintiff admitted that it makes no claim that
its marks have acquired secondary meaning.
See Berkowitz Reply
Decl. Ex. G (plaintiff's response to Interrogatory No. 7).3
Aside from this concession, the secondary meaning factors
indicate that the commercial strength of plaintiff's marks is
For example, although Wag'N has been using the
marks for four years, there is no evidence in this record of any
attempt by other persons or businesses to plagiarize them.
Moreover, plaintiff has produced no studies to show that
consumers associate the marks with Wag'N.
The evidence is also
very unclear as to how much plaintiff has spent "promoting its
Wag'N's documentation on this point is not particularly
clear, and plaintiff offers conflicting interpretations of its
own data, representing in its opening memorandum that it had
spent over $20,000 to advertise its marks, while claiming in its
reply brief that $150,000 has been spent.
Even taking the
$150,000 figure at face value, the marketing documentation
appears to cover nationwide advertising efforts for the entire
period from the launch of Wag'N Rover Respond'R through the
start of this litigation.
See Schiffren Reply Decl. Ex. D.
3 Plaintiff now takes issue with defendant's use of its
interrogatory response, because plaintiff objected to the
interrogatory at the time. Specifically, Wag'N argues that it
believes its marks are not descriptive and thus do not require
secondary meaning, and therefore that "the interrogatory was
PL's Reply at 15-16.
Despite these objections,
however, plaintiff must stand by the statement it made under
oath: that "Wag'N has not claimed that its marks have
established secondary meaning at this time."
Although Wag'N argues that it has dedicated a "significant
percentage of its income" to promoting the two marks at issue in
this lawsuit, defendant correctly observes that $150,000 spent
nationwide over a four-year period is insubstantial in the
context of the greater pet product market.
represents that it has sold only 150 emergency kits featuring
the mark which, at a price of $34.95, would equate to a very
modest revenue of $5,242.50 for the products labeled with the
Accordingly, the Court finds that "Wag'N Rover
Respond'R" and "Rover Respond'R" are overall very weak marks.4
2. Similarity of the marks
A "threshold of intrinsic similarity" between plaintiff's
and defendant's marks is required to establish likelihood of
confusion, as "[t]he Lanham Act was obviously not intended to
create a barrier to competition by preventing the use of
distinguishable trademarks to market similar goods through
Anheuser-Busch, Inc. v. L & L Wings, Inc.,
962 F.2d 316, 320 (4th Cir. 1992).
In evaluating the similarity
between two marks, a court must look to the dominant portions of
each mark and consider "whether there exists a similarity in
sight, sound, and meaning which would result in confusion."
4 Although the record includes certain press coverage, the
coverage is not so extensive as to factor into the analysis of
the strength of the mark. See, e.g., Schiffren Opp'n Decl. Ex.
I (cnn.com article quoting de Pablo and referencing Wag'N's
George & Co.,
575 F.3d at 396.
A court must look to "the marks
as a whole, rather than the component parts of the marks."
Sweetwater Brewing Co., LLC v. Great Am. Rests., Inc., 266 F.
Supp. 2d 457, 462 (E.D. Va. 2003).
The similarity inquiry
occurs "in the context in which [the mark] is seen by the
CareFirst of Md., Inc. v. First Care, P.C.,
434 F.3d 263, 271 (4th Cir. 2006) (quoting Anheuser-Busch, 962
F.2d at 319).
No dispute of material fact exists as to the similarity of
the disputed marks.
"Wag'N Rover Respond'R" and "RedRover
Responders" share no identical component words.
In addition to
a series of other differences, defendant's mark does not use the
word "Wag'N," the word "Rover" is not used as a separate word
but is always preceded by "Red" with no space between "Red" and
"Rover," and unlike the plaintiff's mark, which substitutes an
apostrophe for the final "e" in "Responder," thereby creating a
unique aesthetic parallel between the spellings of "Wag'N" and
"Respond'R," defendant always uses the plural "Responders," with
no apostrophe and no capital "R" on the end.
marks are not confusingly similar in meaning.
For example, the
word "rover" in plaintiff's mark is used to evoke movement,
whereas "RedRover" in defendant's mark reflects its house mark.
Plaintiff protests that despite these differences, the
marks are still "extremely similar in appearance" and that
"RedRover Responders" "incorporates the essential essence" of
PL's Mem. at 15.
Although any one of these
differences between the marks standing alone might not preclude
a finding of confusing similarity, when considered together
these differences clearly establish that the marks are
The dissimilarity in the marks is amplified when they are
displayed in logo form.
Plaintiff's logo consists of a large
orange oval with the word "Wag'N" written in a distinctive large
black typeface inside; the words "Rover Respond'R" appear in
much smaller white type on a red banner underneath the oval.
contrast, defendant's logo depicts the word "RedRover" in large
type against a plain white background, with the word "Red" in
gray print and "Rover" in red print; "Responders" is listed in
smaller type underneath.
The typeface used in defendant's logo
is also quite different from that used in plaintiff's.
From observing the two logos, it is obvious that "Wag'N" is
the dominant portion of plaintiff's mark and "RedRover" the
dominant part of defendant's mark; accordingly, there is no
"identity of the dominant term in both marks."
747 F.2d at 1534.
Plaintiff attempts to avoid this conclusion
by arguing that "the dominant or salient portions of the marks
are 'rover respond'r' and 'redrover responders'" on the basis of
those phrases being "separated from the rest of the text" and
their using "the same red color and shading."
PL's Mem. at 18.
This argument cannot be taken seriously when the logos
themselves are examined.
Although both marks use some red
coloring, the design, emphasis, typeface, font size, and shape
of the logos are easily distinguishable.
Plaintiff also tries to rely on defendants' internal
emails, which plaintiff characterizes as defendant admitting
that the marks are similar, to establish similarity.
exchange in question occurred in late June 2011, soon after
defendant received a cease and desist letter from Wag'N.
Schiffren Mot. Decl. Ex. II.
In the first email of the chain,
RedRover president Nicole Forsyth suggests that, in an effort to
prevent a lawsuit, RedRover could put a link to Wag'N on its
In response, Lisa DeCarlo, a member of defendant's
Legal Advisory Committee, recommended against including such a
link "until we know for sure how legitimate their product is."
DeCarlo went on to explain that she "would hate to recommend a
product to our members and have them feel they got ripped off,
especially when we provide similar materials."
another member of the committee, stated that she thought that a
link on the RedRover website "might create confusion because of
the similarity in name—that visitors would believe this was
actually a UAN product."
Plaintiff seizes on the "similar
materials" comment by DeCarlo and the "similarity in name"
statement by Vella to argue that defendant itself has
essentially conceded that its mark is confusingly similar to
This argument is meritless.
Defendant's comments were
made under threat of litigation when it was considering whether
it should affirmatively associate itself with Wag'N; of course
such an association would increase any likelihood of confusion.
Moreover, calling the marks "similar" in a colloquial sense does
not mean that they meet the definition of confusing similarity
required to sustain a trademark infringement action.5
For all of
these reasons, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable
to the plaintiff, no reasonable fact-finder could find that the
parties' marks are sufficiently similar to support a conclusion
3. Actual confusion
5 Neither can plaintiff demonstrate sufficient similarity between
defendant's "RedRover Responders" mark and the unregistered
"Rover Respond'R" mark. Although the two marks appear more
similar when "Wag'N" has been removed from plaintiff's mark, the
abbreviation is also much weaker than its full-length version,
as "Wag'N" was its most distinctive component.
In determining whether a likelihood of confusion exists,
"evidence of actual confusion is *often paramount.'"
Co., 575 F.3d at 393 (citing Lyons P'ship, L.P. v. Morris
243 F.3d 789,
concedes that it has no evidence of actual confusion, and
instead argues that actual confusion is not absolutely necessary
to sustain a trademark infringement claim.
See PL's Mem. at
Although the lack of such evidence is not dispositive,
the existence of actual confusion is "the most compelling
evidence" that confusion is likely.
Lone Star, 43 F.3d at 937.
Without evidence of a single confused consumer, plaintiff's
claim of likely confusion is largely supposition.
At oral argument, plaintiff's counsel argued that, because
the "Wag'N Rover Respond'R" and "RedRover Responders" marks have
co-existed in the market for a short period of time, actual
confusion is unlikely to have developed already.
has declined to conduct a survey of the relevant consumer base
as a substitute for evidence of actual confusion.
plaintiff has the burden of establishing the likelihood that
consumers will be confused by the parties' use of these marks,
its failure to develop such relevant evidence severely undercuts
Rather than producing evidence of actual confusion or
conducting a survey, plaintiff appears to be concerned with the
hypothetical possibility that one of defendant's volunteers will
make a mistake when performing pet emergency services and that
the error could be associated with and reflect poorly on Wag'N.
See De Pablo Dep. at 98.
In particular, plaintiff is worried
that unfavorable publicity created by RedRover volunteers could
be transmitted to the public via social media.
See id. at 99-
100 ("Once its [negative news about RedRover Responders]
published, Google and the internet crawlers have-you know,
they're going to replicate that, and there are going to be more
than one article.
And if—since we provide similar services in—
whether it's hosting or actually providing them, maybe not
necessarily under Rover Respond'R, but under Wag'N, the crawlers
still find Wag'N Rover Respond'R on the Wag'N Pet Safety
This hypothetical chain of events is entirely
speculative and removed from any evidence that consumers have in
fact been confused or are likely to be confused by defendant's
Accordingly, plaintiff's failure to produce either
evidence of actual confusion or a survey weighs heavily against
a finding of infringement.
4. Defendant's intent
"[I]ntent to confuse the buying public...is strong evidence
establishing likelihood of confusion, since one intending to
profit from another's reputation generally attempts to make his
signs, advertisements, etc., to resemble the other's so as
deliberately to induce confusion."
Pizzeria Uno, 747 F.2d at
Lack of bad faith is not a defense to a claim of
infringement if the plaintiff can show actual or likely
Plaintiff has not made a showing of bad faith on the part
There is no evidence in the record that defendant
adopted the RedRover Responders mark in order to gain a free
ride on the good will Wag'N had developed in the industry.
the contrary, Nicole Forsyth, president and CEO of RedRover,
testified that she had not heard of Wag'N or Wag'N Rover
Respond'R before the instant litigation.
Forsyth Dep. at 45:11-
23; see also Schiffren Mot. Decl. Ex. II (email from Nicole
Forsyth dated June 27, 2011, after receiving cease and desist
letter from Wag'N, stating "I have never heard of [Wag'N].").
In the process of choosing its new name, defendant employed a
focus group regarding possible new names and obtained board of
Forsyth Dep. at 31:3-7; 38:5-12.
California trademark counsel also undertook a trademark search
for the term "RedRover" "covering emergency sheltering for
animals and animal rescue services."
Forsyth Decl. Ex. F.
search produced a 321-page full report that included a reference
to Wag'N Rover Respond'R.
Schiffren Mot. Decl. Ex.
K at 68
Based on the results of the search, counsel
prepared a summary report, which included "an analysis of the
information specifically applicable to [defendant's] proposed
Forsyth Decl. Ex. F.
The report concluded that it was
unlikely that existing marks using the term "RedRover" would
prevent successful registration of the mark to defendant.
Forsyth reviewed the summary report provided by counsel, which
did not include plaintiff's registered mark.
Id.; see also
Forsyth Dep. at 38:23-39:1.
Plaintiff maintains that defendant acted in bad faith by
failing to run a separate trademark search for "RedRover
Responders,"6 by pursuing use of the mark after receiving the
trademark search results, and by failing to terminate use of the
mark after receiving cease and desist letters from Wag'N.
Mem. at 24-26.
In light of the clear differences between
plaintiff's and defendant's marks, counsel's trademark search
and defendant's reliance on counsel's analysis of existing
trademarks, and no evidence of intent to profit off of the
reputation of Wag'N, there is no evidence in the record to find
that defendant acted in bad faith.
5. Similarity of the goods and services identified by the
6 Forsyth explains the decision to limit the trademark search to
"RedRover" by stating that, because the "program names were all
tied to the main name," the "RedRover" search would find
anything similar to the program names.
See Forsyth Dep. at
In considering "the similarity of the goods or services
identified by the marks...the goods in question need not be
identical or in direct competition with each other."
Co., 575 F.3d at 397.
The pivotal question is thus "whether a
reasonable consumer would be likely to believe that the parties'
products are the type to emanate from a common source."
& Sprit Aktiebolag v. Hanson, 61 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1277, at *12
(E.D. Va. Oct. 16, 2001).
The parties hotly dispute this
factor, but upon close inspection, the general types of goods
and services provided by the parties are to some degree related—
Le., pet care in emergencies, although the actual products and
services identified by the parties' respective marks are quite
Although the defendant does sell some promotional
merchandise, the only use it makes of "RedRover Responders" is
on t-shirts worn by volunteers and in a section of a brochure
discussing the volunteer program.
Forsyth Dep. at 88:11-16.
All other products are labeled only with the general RedRover
name, and not with "RedRover Responders."
contends that defendant sells emergency kits similar to those
offered by Wag'N, but the evidence indicates that defendant
stopped selling kits before changing its name to RedRover.
Currently, defendant's involvement with emergency kits is
limited to disaster preparedness guidance, which includes
instruction on "how to prepare a kit" in the event of an
evacuation; it does not actually offer such kits.
at 86:20-87:20; 96:20-97:2; 98:6-13.7
Like Wag'N, defendant also
provides emergency contact cards and house decals; however,
RedRover charges a nominal fee for these items and they are not
sold for a profit, as are plaintiff's kits.
these items are labeled only with "RedRover," not with the
challenged "RedRover Responders" mark.
See Schiffren Reply
Decl. Ex. T; Forsyth Dep. at 84:17-21.
The specific products and services bearing the marks "Wag'N
Rover Respond'R" and "RedRover Responders" thus do not directly
Wag'N uses its mark only in connection with its
emergency kits and the related membership service; defendant
uses "RedRover Responders" only to denote its emergency response
volunteers via t-shirts and to explain the volunteer program on
its website and in its brochure.
Although a disaster response
volunteer program run by a non-profit organization is clearly
distinct from a physical product and membership service for sale
to individual pet owners, plaintiff is correct that, at a very
general level, both entities deal with pet care in emergencies.
Even assuming that the goods and services identified by the
7Defendant recommends that pet owners create their own emergency
kits, including items such as the pet's medication and supplies
of food and water.
See Schiffren Reply Decl. Ex. L ("Pet
Disaster Preparedness" page of RedRover website).
disputed marks are sufficiently related, however, the other
Pizzeria Uno factors still require a finding of no infringement.8
6. Similarity in facilities and advertising
Finally, any overlap in the facilities and modes of
advertising used by the parties does not preclude summary
judgment for defendant.
For example, plaintiff identifies
several pet magazines in which it advertises, and points to an
article in the April 2011 issue of Fido Friendly magazine that
mentions both plaintiff and defendant.
Schiffren Mot. Decl. Ex. EE.
See PL's Mem. at 23;
Plaintiff also argues that the
fact that both parties had a "booth presence at the HSUS Taking
Action for Animals conference in 2009" and that plaintiff
attended a national conference hosted by defendant in 2008 is
further evidence of this overlap.
See PL's Mem. at 23-24.
These events took place long before defendant adopted the
RedRover name in June 2011.
Moreover, even if the parties do
use similar facilities and advertising, such use does not
8It is not necessary for all of the Pizzeria Uno factors to
indisputably favor one party to grant summary judgment. See
962 F.2d at 320 ("[T]he Pizzeria Uno
factors are only a guide—a catalog of various considerations
that may be relevant in determining the ultimate statutory
question of likelihood of confusion."); cf. Rosetta Stone Ltd.,
2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 7082, at *16 ("This judicially created list
of factors is not intended to be exhaustive or mandatory.").
overcome the conclusion required by the other Pizzeria Uno
factors discussed above.9
In sum, there are no material facts in dispute as to the
likelihood of confusion between plaintiff's and defendant's
The record clearly shows that plaintiff's and
defendant's marks are very dissimilar; "Wag'N Rover Respond'R"
and "Rover Respond'R" are extremely weak marks; plaintiff cannot
show that even a single consumer has in fact been confused by
the use of defendant's mark; and there is no evidence of
defendant acting in bad faith in adopting its mark.
For all of
the Court finds that defendant's use of "RedRover
Responders" does not infringe plaintiff's "Wag'N Rover
Respond'R" or "Rover Respond'R" marks.
Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted and plaintiff's
9 The final two factors—the quality of the defendant's product
and the level of sophistication of the consumer—are not
applicable in this case. "Consideration of the quality of the
defendant's product is most appropriate in situations involving
the production of cheap copies or knockoffs of a competitor's
Sara Lee, 81 F.3d at 467.
the differences in the products labeled with the parties' marks,
this factor is not applicable here.
sophistication will only be a key factor when the relevant
market is not the public at-large." Id. Lay persons who might
volunteer for defendant's sheltering service or purchase
plaintiff's emergency kit are not more or less sophisticated
than the general public, rendering this factor unhelpful in the
likelihood of confusion analysis.
Motion will be denied by an Order to accompany this Memorandum
day of May, 2012.
Leonie M. Brinkema
United States District Judge