WorldCare Limited Corporation v. World Insurance Company
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - The Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Filing No. 5 ) filed by Plaintiff WorldCare Limited Corporation, is granted. Defendant World Insurance Company and its officers, agents, servants, employees, and all persons acting in co ncert with World Insurance, are enjoined from using the designation "WORLDCARE" or any other name or mark confusingly similar to "WORLDCARE," either alone or in combination with other words or symbols, as part of any trademark, se rvice mark, trade name, product name, corporate name, assumed name, domain name, Web site name, email address or in any other manner in connection with healthcare or medical-related services during the pendency of this action. Ordered by Judge Laurie Smith Camp. (TCL )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
WORLDCARE LIMITED CORPORATION,
WORLD INSURANCE COMPANY,
CASE NO. 8:11CV99
This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Filing No.
5) filed by Plaintiff WorldCare Limited Corporation. The issues raised by this Motion have
been fully briefed, and the parties appeared before the Court on April 12, 2010, to argue
their respective positions. For the reasons discussed below, the Motion will be granted and
a preliminary injunction will issue.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff WorldCare Limited Corporation (“WorldCare”) is incorporated under the
laws of Bermuda with its principal place of business in Boston, Massachusetts. WorldCare
has sold second-opinion telemedicine services since 1992. WorldCare sells its secondopinion services through insurance policies, typically as an additional benefit that insurance
companies can offer their insureds as part of their health plans. WorldCare states that its
services allow people access to quality medical advice to supplement what they receive
from their current healthcare providers. Under WorldCare’s services, second opinions are
given through teams of highly specialized physicians, to provide diagnoses and
recommend treatment plans based on the latest medical research. Insureds and/or
patients obtain medical advice over the phone or through the Internet from WorldCare’s
strategic partners, regardless of the physical location of the physician or the patient. On
June 4, 1996, WorldCare successfully applied to the United States Patent and Trademark
Office (“PTO”) for a service mark on “WORLDCARE” for the purposes of selling “medical
services, namely, providing medical information via telephone and/or interactive television
and/or computer network.” WorldCare’s “first use” of the mark occurred on June 28, 1996.
WorldCare has also registered other trademarks founded on the WorldCare name and
symbol. WorldCare continues to provide its services under the WORLDCARE mark.
Defendant World Insurance Company (“World Insurance”) is a Nebraska corporation
with its principal place of business in Omaha, Nebraska. World Insurance provides health
insurance products and services under its house mark, including basic medical, major
medical, comprehensive major medical, short-term major medical and dental insurance.
World Insurance adopted the designation WORLDCARE at least as early as February
2003, as a brand name for use in connection with underwriting and administration of health
insurance, preferred provider plans and health savings accounts. World Insurance has
used its iteration of the WORLDCARE mark consistently in commerce since that time.
World Insurance markets products and services under the WORLDCARE mark in thirtythree states to individuals, families, and small business owners. Of the 56,369 World
Insurance policies across the country, 29,596 are branded with the WORLDCARE mark.
On March 28, 2005, World Insurance applied to the PTO for federal registration of
its WORLDCARE mark for use in connection with “underwriting and administration of
health insurance, preferred provider plans and health savings accounts.” The PTO Office
Examiner rejected World Insurance’s application on the basis that it was likely to be
confused with WorldCare’s registered mark, WORLDCARE GLOBAL HEALTH PLAN. The
PTO’s decision stated that the dominant wording in the marks was identical, and the
remaining wording in WorldCare’s mark was descriptive and had been disclaimed by
The PTO also determined that the services to be provided under the
respective iterations of the WORLDCARE mark were identical. Specifically, the PTO noted
that World Insurance’s services were “underwriting and administration of health insurance,
preferred provider plans and health savings accounts.” (Filing No. 25-8 at 3.) While
services provided under the WORLDCARE GLOBAL HEALTH PLAN were described as
“healthcare insurance underwriting services and administration of pre-paid benefits plans.”
(Id.) The PTO ultimately refused World Insurance’s registration stating that “[b]ecause the
services and the dominant feature of the marks are identical, consumers would likely be
confused as to the source of the services.”
WorldCare claims it has evidence of actual confusion in the market place as a result
of World Insurance’s use of the WORLDCARE mark. In the summer of 2009, WorldCare
began receiving calls from hospitals regarding the World Insurance “WorldCARE”
insurance products. Specifically, hospitals called WorldCare to inquire about benefits
under WorldCARE insurance health plans. WorldCare thereafter demanded that World
Insurance “cease and desist” using the “WorldCARE” mark because it was causing
confusion in the market place in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1114(a),
1125(a), and other applicable law. World Insurance instead suggested that the parties
negotiate a settlement and a licensing agreement. The parties sought to negotiate a
business resolution, but those negotiations ultimately failed.
WorldCare brought the present action on September 21, 2010, in the United States
District Court for the District of Connecticut (Filing No. 1), seeking damages and injunctive
relief under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1114(a), 1125(a). The same day, WorldCare
filed its Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Filing No. 5). On February 28, 2011, the District
of Connecticut transferred the case to this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). (Filing No.
42.) On April 12, 2011, a hearing before this Court was held on WorldCare’s Motion for
WorldCare seeks preliminary injunctive relief against World
Insurance’s use of the WORLDCARE mark or any similar name or mark.
A preliminary injunction is considered an extraordinary remedy, and the burden of
proving each of the Dataphase factors lies with the party seeking the injunction. Watkins
Inc. v. Lewis, 346 F.3d 841, 844 (8th Cir. 2003). When considering a motion for preliminary
injunctive relief, a district court should weigh “(1) the threat of irreparable harm to the
movant; (2) the state of balance between this harm and the injury that granting the
injunction will inflict on other parties litigant; (3) the probability that movant will succeed on
the merits; and (4) the public interest.” Dataphase Sys., Inc. v. C.L. Systems Inc., 640 F.2d
109, 114 (8th Cir.1981) (en banc).
The Balance of Harm
The Court first addresses the balance of harms between the parties should a
preliminary injunction issue.
The day before the hearing on April 12, 2011, World
Insurance submitted the affidavit of Elizabeth Powell, a vice president overseeing health
markets for World Insurance (Filing No. 70.) In her Affidavit, Powell states that, in midNovember 2010, World Insurance “decided to temporarily phase out its external use of the
mark WORLDCARE.” (Id. ¶ 3.) The phase-out began at that time and was primarily
complete in January 2011. (Id.) World Insurance still uses the term WORLDCARE
internally, but external marketing, including advertising, the company website, and other
materials for customers have been revised to eliminate use of the WORLDCARE mark.
(Id.) Powell stated that this “is a temporary change, as [World Insurance] hopes to resume
its use of WORLDCARE after this trademark dispute is resolved.” (Id.) Powell further
stated that by phasing out use of the WORLDCARE mark as opposed to immediate
stoppage, World Insurance minimized costs and disruptions to business. (Id. ¶ 4.)
Based on Powell’s Affidavit, this factor tips significantly in favor of WorldCare. The
issuance of a preliminary injunction would not place additional burdens on World Insurance
because it has stopped using the WORLDCARE mark externally.
In essence, a
preliminary injunction would order World Insurance to do what it has agreed to do.
Nevertheless, World Insurance indicated at the hearing that it was not willing to consent
to issuance of a preliminary injunction because there was no legal justification for it and it
could be harmed by a negative public perception. Though that may be, the Court’s
analysis must focus of the burdens and costs placed on World Insurance. Dataphase, 640
F.2d at 114 (8th Cir.1981).
Because of World Insurance’s own action, its burden
associated with an injunction has been significantly minimized. Thus, this factor weighs
in favor of issuance of a preliminary injunction.
Probability of Success on the Merits
In further assessing whether a preliminary injunction should be granted in this case,
the other factors greatly depend on WorldCare’s probability of success on the merits.
WorldCare brings trademark infringement claims under Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1114(a)
and 1125(a). Courts analyze infringement claims under §§ 1114 and 1125 using the same
criteria. See, e.g., Community of Christ Copyright Corp. v. Devon Park Restoration Branch
of Jesus Christ’s Church, 634 F.3d 1005, 1008-09 (8th Cir. 2011). To establish a claim for
trademark infringement, “a trademark owner [must] prove that it has ownership or rights
in the trademark and that the defendant has used the mark in connection with goods or
services in a manner likely to cause consumer confusion as to the source or sponsorship
of the goods or services.” Id. The Court determines that WorldCare is likely to show it has
acquired rights in the WORLDCARE mark, and that World Insurance’s use of the
WORLDCARE mark is likely to cause confusion.
1. Trademark Acquisition
The parties do not dispute that WorldCare has acquired rights in the WORLDCARE
mark. Neither do the parties dispute that WorldCare has previously owned at least three
WORLDCARE-formative trademark registrations. These include:
WORLDCARE, Registration No. 2220736 for use in connection with medial
services, namely, providing medical information via telephone and/or
interactive television and/or computer network;
WORLDCARE & Design, Registration No. 2118465 for use in connection
with medial services, namely, providing medical information via telephone
and/or interactive television and/or computer network;
WORLDCARE GLOBAL HEALTH PLAN, Registration No. 2829051 for use
in connection with (a) administration of medical, hospital and related health
care services, (b) healthcare insurance underwriting services and
administration of pre-paid benefits plans, and (c) healthcare services,
hospital services, and telemedicine services.
(Filing No. 24 at 4.)
World Insurance states that WorldCare failed to renew its ownership in the
WORLDCARE GLOBAL HEALTH PLAN in the time allowed by 15 U.S.C. § 1059(a).
Nevertheless, ownership of registration is not determinative of ownership of trademark
rights, and “the absence of federal registration does not unleash the mark to public use.”
Gilbert/Robinson, Inc. v. Carrie Beverage-Missouri, Inc., 989 F.2d 985, 992 (8th Cir. 1993)
(citation omitted). World Insurance does not otherwise dispute WorldCare’s rights in any
iterations of the WORLDCARE mark. WorldCare continuously has offered its services and
products under the WORLDCARE mark. Therefore, WorldCare is likely to show that it has
acquired an ownership interest in the WORLDCARE mark.
2. Likelihood of Confusion
WorldCare must show that it is likely to succeed in proving that World Insurance’s
use of the WORLDCARE mark is likely to cause confusion. Sensient Tech. Corp. v.
SensoryEffects Flavor Co., 613 F.3d 754, 763 n. 3 (8th Cir. 2010); To determine whether
a likelihood of confusion exists, the Eighth Circuit applies a six-factor test, no part of which
is dispositive standing alone:
(1) the strength of the owner’s mark; (2) the similarity between the owner’s
mark and the alleged infringer’s mark; (3) the degree to which the products
compete with each other; (4) the alleged infringer’s intent to ‘pass off’ its
goods as those of the trademark owner; (5) incidents of actual confusion;
and, (6) the type of product, its cost, and conditions of purchase.
Frosty Treats v. Sony Computer Ent. Am. Inc., 426 F.3d 1001, 1008 (8th Cir. 2005).
Courts use these factors “as a guide to determine whether a reasonable jury could find a
likelihood of confusion.” Id. The analysis of the factors based on the evidence and
arguments submitted demonstrates that WorldCare is likely to demonstrate a likelihood of
A. Strength of the Owner’s Mark
World Insurance argues that the WORLDCARE mark is weak because it is widely
used. In analyzing the strength of the owner’s mark, the Eighth Circuit has recognized that
a “strong and distinctive trademark is entitled to greater protection than a weak or
commonplace one.” Id. (citing SquirtCo. v. Seven-Up Co., 628 F.2d 1086, 1091 (8th Cir.
1980)). The strength of a mark is made of both conceptual strength and commercial
strength in the marketplace. George & Co. v. Imagination Entm’t Ltd., 575 F.3d 383, 393
(4th Cir. 2009); ConAgra, Inc. v. George A. Hormel & Co., 784 F. Supp. 700, 708 (D. Neb.
1992), aff’d, 990 F.2d 368 (8th Cir. 1993); 2 J. Thomas McCarthy, McCarthy on
Trademarks and Unfair Competition § 11:83 (4th ed. 2010). The rationale of analyzing
both categories of strength is that “even a ‘weak’ mark is entitled to protection against
subsequent registration or use by another for a closely similar format on closely
competitive goods or services.” ConAgra, 784 F. Supp. at 707. Here, the evidence at this
early stage suggests that WorldCare is likely to show that its use of the WORLDCARE
mark is strong both conceptually and in the relevant marketplace.
I. Conceptual Strength
To measure conceptual strength, the mark is classified into one of four categories
from weakest to strongest: generic, descriptive, suggestive, or arbitrary or fanciful.
Sensient, 613 F.3d at 763. WorldCare argues that it’s use of the WORLDCARE mark is
suggestive. “A suggestive mark is one that requires some measure of imagination to reach
a conclusion regarding the nature of the product.” Duluth News-Tribune, a Div. of Nw.
Publ’n, Inc. v. Mesabi Pub. Co., 84 F.3d 1093, 1096 (8th Cir. 1996) (citing American Home
Products Corp. v. Johnson Chemical Co. Inc., 589 F.2d 103, 106 (2d Cir.1978) (the mark
“Roach Motel” was suggestive because “[w]hile roaches may live in some motels against
the will of the owners, motels are surely not built for roaches to live in”)).
marks are “entitled to protection regardless of whether they have acquired secondary
meaning.” Frosty Treats, 426 F.3d at 1005.
World Insurance does not dispute WorldCare’s argument that its use of the
WORLDCARE mark is suggestive and based on the evidence before the Court, WorldCare
is likely to prove that the WORLDCARE mark is suggestive. The WORLDCARE mark
conveys the impression that WorldCare’s product involves some type of care, but does not
describe the service. Thus, the mark requires at least some imagination to reach a
conclusion about the nature of WorldCare’s product. Thus, the WORLDCARE mark is
ii. Commercial Strength
World Insurance argues that the WORLDCARE or WORLD CARE mark is weak
because it is in use by a number of third parties for various goods and services. Under this
second prong, “a mark can start off weak, but become strong in the marketplace.”
ConAgra, 784 F. Supp. at 712. In the likelihood-of-confusion context, the commercial
strength of a mark is based on the “public recognition and renown” of the mark as shown
by the amount of advertising, sales volume, features and reviews in publications, and
survey evidence. See Palm Bay Imports, Inc. v. Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Maison Fondee
En 1772, 396 F.3d 1369, 1374-76 (Fed. Cir. 2005). The relevant market for analyzing
commercial strength is “the class of customers and potential customers of a product or
service, and not the general public.” Id. at 1375.
WorldCare asserts that it is likely to prove its mark is commercially strong based on
its previously uncontested use of the mark and its recognition value to customers. The
Second Circuit in The Sports Authority, Inc. v. Prime Hospitality Corp., 89 F.3d 955, 960
(2d Cir. 1996), stated that five years of uncontested registered use of a mark sufficiently
demonstrates that a mark is strong. WorldCare has demonstrated that it used the
WORLDCARE mark, uncontested, for nearly ten years. Based on this use, WorldCare is
likely to show that its use of the WORLDCARE is commercially strong among the class of
customers and potential customers in the relevant market.
World Insurance counters that this period of uncontested use is insufficient because
World Insurance has used its iteration of the WORLDCARE mark simultaneously with
WorldCare for the last seven years. It is axiomatic that the “proper function of a trade-mark
is that by association with goods it becomes a means of identification of the origin or
ownership of the article and hence a symbol of good will.” Seven Up Co. v. Cheer Up
Sales Co. of St. Louis, Mo., 148 F.2d 909, 910 (8th Cir. 1945). WorldCare’s use of the
WORLDCARE mark serves that function because the mark for its product and services is
also the name of the company, thus identifying the origin of the services. That fact,
combined with the extent and actual use by WorldCare of the WORLDCARE mark suggest
that WorldCare is likely to demonstrate the strength of its mark. For that reason, the
strength of the WORLDCARE mark is not diminished by World Insurance’s simultaneous
World Insurance also argues that the WORLDCARE mark is weak because similar
marks are in use by several charitable organizations and by at least one other insurance
company. However, the relevant market for each of these is not the same as that of the
parties. Customers or potential customers of charitable organizations are clearly part of
a separate market. The other medical insurance company identified by World Insurance
uses the mark “World Care Alliance Group.” However, the World Care Alliance Group
focuses its market specifically on unions, while the parties in this case target a much
broader health care market. Thus, the evidence of other companies’ use of the words
“world care” in their names and products does not weaken the WORLDCARE mark as
used by WorldCare.
B. Similarity of the Owner’s Mark and the Alleged Infringer’s Mark
Under the second factor, the Court considers the similarity between the iterations
of WorldCare and World Insurance’s marks. Courts employ “sight, sound, and meaning”
to assess the similarity of the marks. Sunsient, 613 F.3d at 765. The Eighth Circuit has
“continually held the use of identical dominant words does not automatically equate to
similarity between marks.” Id. However, in this case, there is no aural or significant visual
difference between the parties’ respective iterations of the WORLDCARE mark. As noted
by the PTO, the dominant wording of the marks is identical. Although the PTO office
analyzed WorldCare’s WORLDCARE GLOBAL HEALTH PLAN mark, it noted that
consumers would likely contact WorldCare under the WORLDCARE mark because it is the
dominant wording. The PTO stated:
Consumers likely would not use the descriptive wording in [WorldCare’s]
mark to call for the services. WORLDCARE is the dominant feature in
[WorldCare’s] mark, and because this wording is identical to the wording in
[World Insurance’s] mark, consumers would likely be confused as to the
source of the services.
(Filing No. 25-8 at 2.)
The PTO’s analysis is persuasive as to the similarity of the marks. That World
Insurance frequently uses its iteration of the WORLDCARE mark in conjunction with World
Insurance’s house mark does not diminish the similarity between the dominant wording of
the marks. World Insurance’s evidence does not indicate that its use of the WORLDCARE
mark is always or predominantly associated with the World Insurance house mark. Thus,
customers may encounter both marks in circumstances that may cause confusion. Based
on the similarity of the dominant wording of the parties’ marks, WorldCare is likely to show
that the marks are similar in sight, sound, and meaning.
C. The Degree of Competition Between the Products
The third factor compares the degree of competition between products.1 Id. at 766.
“If the two companies’ products are closely related, confusion among customers is more
“Confusion, however, may exist in the absence of direct competition.”
Anheuser-Busch, Inc. v. Balducci Publications, 28 F.3d 769, 774 (8th Cir. 1994). For
example, the presence of a parody advertisement on the back cover of a magazine, a
traditional place for real advertisements, threatens to confuse customers accustomed to
seeing real ads there. Id. In other words, “confusion, not competition, is the touchstone
of trademark infringement.” Mutual of Omaha Ins. Co. v. Novak, 836 F.2d 397, 399 (8th
This factor also affects the similarity between the marks. See e.g. Sunsient, 613
F.3d at 765 (courts “evaluate the impression the entire mark is likely to have ‘on a
purchaser exercising the attention usually given by purchasers of such products.’”) (quoting
Duluth News-Tribune, 84 F.3d at 1097)).
Cir. 1987). In Mutual of Omaha, the alleged infringer placed on t-shirts and coffee mugs
a parody of a trademark used in commerce by Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company.
Mutual of Omaha also used its marks on t-shirts and mugs to be used as gifts or incentives
for employees and customers. The Eighth Circuit determined that “by putting his design
on items similar to those on which Mutual puts its marks, [the alleged infringer] increased
the likelihood of confusion.” Id.
Here, the parties’ products and markets are sufficiently related that consumers may
be confused. WorldCare’s product is sold through insurance programs. Customers can
purchase WorldCare’s access to second-opinion medical services as a rider to their health
insurance policies. World Insurance’s product offered under the WORLDCARE mark is
a medical insurance plan. Like the marks at issue in Anheuser-Busch and Mutual of
Omaha, the evidence suggests that consumers may encounter both marks in similar
settings, increasing the likelihood of confusion.
World Insurance argues that the relevant markets are not proximate, in part,
because the PTO’s analysis focused solely on WorldCare’s use of the WORLDCARE
GLOBAL HEALTH PLAN mark. The PTO’s decision compared World Insurance’s mark
and the WORLDCARE GLOBAL HEALTH PLAN mark and noted that confusion was likely
because the products offered were identical. World Insurance argues that since the PTO’s
decision only examines WorldCare’s WORLDCARE GLOBAL HEALTH PLAN mark, it
should be presumed that the PTO determined that WorldCare’s other marks were not
proximately related or confusingly similar to World Insurance’s mark. However, the PTO
specifically noted that the “goods and services of the parties need not be identical” and that
“they need only be related in some manner, or the conditions surrounding their marketing
be such that they could be encountered by the same purchasers under circumstances that
could give rise to the mistaken belief that the goods and/or service come from a common
source.” (Filing No. 25-8 at 2 (supporting citations omitted)). As stated above, the
products offered under the competing marks could be encountered by common purchasers
under circumstances that could cause confusion. Therefore, WorldCare is likely to show
that the products are in competitive proximity.
D. The Alleged Infringer’s Intent to Pass Off its Goods as the Trademark Owner’s
The fourth factor analyzed is “whether the alleged infringer intended to pass off its
goods as the trademark owner’s goods.” Sunsient, 613 F.3d at 766. WorldCare need not
prove bad intent, but “the absence of such intent is a factor to be considered.” Frosty
Treats, 426 F.3d at 1008. “Knowledge of another’s product and an intent to compete with
that product is not . . . equivalent to an intent by a new entrant to a market to mislead and
to cause consumer confusion.” General Mills, Inc. v. Kellog Co., 824 F.2d 622, 627 (8th
Cir. 1987). Here, besides World Insurance’s knowledge, there is little evidence to show
World Insurance intended to pass off its products as those of WorldCare.
E. Incidents of Actual Confusion
The Court also examines incidents of actual confusion. Sunsient, 613 F.3d at 768.
Although such incidents serve as proof of likelihood of confusion, WorldCare is not
required to show incidents of actual confusion to succeed on its infringement case. Id.
(citing SquirtCo., 628 F.2d at 1091). The Eighth Circuit has stated that negligible confusion
at the time immediately following the defendant’s adoption of the allegedly confusing mark
does not show evidence of actual confusion. Id. Regarding misdirected phone calls, the
Eighth Circuit has stated that “vague evidence of misdirected phone calls and mail is
hearsay of a particularly unreliable nature given the lack of an opportunity for crossexamination of the caller or sender regarding the reason for the ‘confusion.’” Duluth NewsTribune, 84 F.3d at 1098. To analyze the impact of evidence of actual confusion, the Court
must “look to whether an appreciable number of ordinary purchasers are likely to be so
misled.” Id. at 1099.
In this case, WorldCare claims evidence of actual confusion because in the summer
of 2009 it began receiving calls regarding insurance products. It is difficult to determine
whether these incidents of confusion amount to “vague evidence of misdirected phone
calls” or whether they occurred under circumstances that would lead an appreciable
amount of customers to be misled. Because of the limited evidence, the Court cannot
conclude that by these inquiries WorldCare is likely to show instances of actual confusion.
F. The Type of Product, Its Cost, and Conditions of Purchase
The final likelihood-of-confusion factor examines the conditions of purchase and the
degree of care expected of customers. Sunsient, 613 F.3d at 769. “In considering this
factor, [the Court] must stand in the shoes of the ordinary purchaser, buying under the
normally prevalent conditions of the market and giving the attention such purchasers
usually give in buying that class of goods.” Luingino’s, 170 F.3d at 831. The weight given
this factor is “more important in confusion-of-source cases where the degree of care that
the purchaser exercises in purchasing a product can eliminate the confusion that might
otherwise exist.” Frosty Treats, 426 F.3d at 1010. For example, in Duluth News-Tribune,
the Eighth Circuit found that newspaper purchasers would exercise some care when
subscribing to a paper because “[c]ustomers who spend the money and effort to subscribe
to a newspaper are likely to know which paper they are buying, and to complain if they get
the wrong one.” 84 F.3d at 1099.
The parties have not argued this factor extensively, but the evidence before the
Court favors a preliminary injunction. Although customers would certainly exercise a fair
amount of care when selecting medical insurance products, the similarity of the marks may
be too great to overcome the customer’s degree of care. To evaluate consumer confusion,
the Court must not attempt to determine what it would do, but “what a reasonable
purchaser in market conditions would do.” Calvin Klein Cosmetics Corp. v. Lenox Labs.,
Inc., 815 F.2d 500, 505 (8th Cir. 1987). When selecting medical coverage and related
products, a customer or potential customer may not recognize that distinct products with
different WORLDCARE marks would come from different sources. In that narrow context,
the competing iterations of similar marks may cause confusion despite a consumer’s
degree of care. Accordingly, this factor favors WorldCare.
Weighing the factors, the Court is satisfied that WorldCare is likely to demonstrate
consumer confusion between the marks. Though the evidence before the Court does not
conclusively establish any incidents of actual confusion or bad faith on the part of World
Insurance, the other factors weigh sufficiently in favor of WorldCare to demonstrate a
likelihood of confusion in the relevant marketplace between the parties’ WORLDCARE
The Threat of Irreparable Harm to the Movant
Because trademarks represent “intangible assets such as reputation and goodwill,
a showing of irreparable injury can be satisfied if it appears that Kellogg can demonstrate
a likelihood of consumer confusion.” General Mills, 824 F.2d at 625. Because WorldCare
Has demonstrated a likelihood of confusion, the threat of irreparable harm is presumed?
In some cases, confusion in the marketplace is sufficient to demonstrate public
interest favoring the granting a preliminary injunction. See Coca-Cola Co. v. Purdy, 382
F.3d 774, 789 (8th Cir. 2004); Mutual of Omaha, 775 F.2d at 249. The public interest in
avoiding consumer confusion is applicable in this case.
The parties’ uses of the
WORLDCARE marks both arise in the context of medical insurance and medical care. A
strong public interest exists in preventing confusion as to the source of products and
services included in a medical coverage insurance policy, and as to who will be providing
those services. Because customers will encounter both marks in the medical care context,
the public interest is served by a preliminary injunction.
WorldCare has demonstrated that each of the Dataphase factors weighs in favor
of the issuance of a preliminary injunction, and World Insurance’s own actions minimize
its burden under the injunction. Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED:
The Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Filing No. 5) filed by Plaintiff
WorldCare Limited Corporation, is granted; and
Defendant World Insurance Company and its officers, agents, servants,
employees, and all persons acting in concert with World Insurance, are
enjoined from using the designation “WORLDCARE” or any other name or
mark confusingly similar to “WORLDCARE,” either alone or in combination
with other words or symbols, as part of any trademark, service mark, trade
name, product name, corporate name, assumed name, domain name, Web
site name, email address or in any other manner in connection with
healthcare or medical-related services during the pendency of this action
DATED this 9th day of May, 2011.
BY THE COURT:
s/Laurie Smith Camp
United States District Judge
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