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Forest River, Inc. v. Winnebago Industries, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

February 14, 2017

FOREST RIVER, INC., Plaintiff
v.
WINNEBAGO INDUSTRIES, INC., WINNEBAGO OF INDIANA, LLC, Defendants

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Robert L. Miller, Jr. United States District Court

         Forest River, Inc. sues Winnebago Industries, Inc. and its subsidiary Winnebago of Indiana, LLC under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a), and common law alleging trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, unfair competition, false designation of origin, and false and misleading representations. The defendants' motion for partial dismissal of the plaintiff's claims based on trade dress infringement pends. The court grants that motion for the reasons that follow.

         I. Standard of Review

         A court considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss construes the complaint “in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, accept[s] well-pleaded facts as true, and draw[s] all inferences” in the nonmoving party's favor. Reynolds v. CB Sports Bar, Inc., 623 F.3d 1143, 1146 (7th Cir. 2010). Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully- harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)(citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570); see also Morrison v. YTB Int'l, Inc., 649 F.3d 533, 538 (7th Cir. 2011); Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). A claim is plausible if “the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); Mann v. Vogel, 707 F.3d 872, 877 (7th Cir. 2013). “[L]egal conclusions or conclusory allegations that merely recite a claim's elements” are not entitled to any presumption of truth. Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 632 (7th Cir. 2012). See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (“Threadbare recital of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”). Twombly and Iqbal “require the plaintiff to ‘provid[e] some specific facts' to support the legal claims asserted in the compliant.” McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d at 581)). The plaintiff “must give enough details about the subject-matter of the case to present a story that holds together.” Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010).

         II. Discussion

         To state a plausible claim for trade dress infringement, Forest River must define its trade dress and plead sufficient facts to show that it is nonfunctional and has acquired secondary meaning and that a likelihood of confusion exists between its trade dress and Winnebago's trade dress. Incredible Techs, Inc. v. Virtual Techs, Inc., 400 F.3d 1007, 1015 (7th Cir. 2005); Weber-Stephen Products LLC v. Sears Holding Corp., No. 13-cv-1686, 2013 WL 5782433 at *3 (N.D. Ill. 2013).

         Forest River's complaint focuses on its “RPOD” travel trailer and Winnebago's “DROP” travel trailer. Briefly summarized, the factual allegations relating to Forest River's trade dress claims are these:

(1) Forest River's trade dress is defined to include, “the size, shape and color of the travel trailers” sold under the trademark “RPOD”, including “the exterior shape, the total visual image, the interior layout, interior fabric patterns and colors, and model numbers.” Photographs showing a “Perspective View of RPOD travel trailer” and an “Interior View of RPOD travel trailer E-Center” were included in the complaint.
(2) Forest River's “Trade Dress” has “distinctive characteristics, including features such as size, shape, and color” that are used by consumers “to identify and distinguish [Forest River's travel trailers] from products offered by other companies”, have been “extensively and continuously used” since 2008, and “are not functional.”
(3) Around September 2015, Winnebago began “promoting and selling a travel trailer using a confusingly similar design.” Photographs of the exterior and interior views of Forest River's RPOD trailer and Winnebago's DROP trailer were included in the complaint.
(4) Winnebago's use of “infringing Trade Dress” began “well after [Forest River's] established use in the relevant market”, and “has caused, and is likely to further cause, consumer confusion….”
(5) “In November 2015, [Forest River] became aware that some of [its] customers were actually confused about whether [Winnebago's] goods bearing the…infringing trade dress were offered by, sold by, endorsed by, sponsored by, or affiliated with [Forest River].”
(6) “[Winnebago's] use of the confusingly similar…infringing Trade Dress…is likely to continue to cause a substantial number of consumers to be mistaken, confused, or deceived into thinking that [Winnebago's] goods are offered by, endorsed by, sponsored by, or affiliated with [Forest River].”
(7) “[Winnebago] has no association or affiliation with [Forest River]” and doesn't have Forest River's consent to use the ...

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