Loomis v. Cornish
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JL Beverage v. Jim Beam Brands

The panel reversed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of Jim Beam Brands Co. on claims of trademark infringement, false designation of origin, and unfair competition brought under the Lanham Act and Nevada state law by JL Beverage Co., which sells a competing line of flavored vodkas.

The panel held that the district court erred in failing to place the burden of proof on Jim Beam Brands, the moving party; failing to view the evidence in the light most favorable to JL Beverage; and never analyzing whether a genuine dispute of material fact existed.

The panel held that genuine issues of material fact remained as to the likelihood of consumer confusion between plaintiff’s registered “Johnny Love Vodka” and “JL Lips” marks and defendant’s “Pucker Vodka” logo. A reasonable fact-finder could conclude that plaintiffs’ marks had conceptual strength and either did or did not have commercial strength, that the parties’ products were related flavoredliquor products sold to the same customers and distributors, that the products were similar, that consumers purchasing the products were not likely to exercise a high degree of care in distinguishing between the two, and that Jim Beam was aware of JL Beverage’s trademarks prior to rolling out its Pucker Vodka line. The panel therefore reversed and remanded for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.

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