McKillip Industries v. Integrated Label Corp., 477 F.Supp.2d 928 (N.D. Ill. 2006) (full-text).
Factual Background Edit
Plaintiff and defendant sold "integrated labels," which are "removable labels incorporated into a form manufactured from the same paper stock." Defendant federally registered the mark INTEGRATED LABELS and filed applications for the marks INTEGRATED CARDS and INTEGRATED FORMS.
Trial Court Proceedings Edit
Plaintiff moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the terms "integrated labels," "integrated cards," and "integrated forms" were generic and not entitled to trademark protection. The court rejected plaintiff's reliance on the dictionary definition of "integrated" to show that the mark "integrated labels" represented a "product genus," emphasizing its hesitance to "dissect" marks because a combination of words not individually protectable may become protectable when combined.
Plaintiff also presented evidence of use of the terms "integrated labels/cards/forms" by competitors on the Internet and in business directories and trade journals that reference the terms or contain advertisements that do. The court held that this evidence did not "extinguish the existence of a material fact." It noted several problems with the Internet results, which were the results of a Google Internet search for the combined terms. First, the searches were not geographically restricted. Second, the court described the results as "self-selective" because the search :would not yield web-pages that refer to the same product in terms other than 'integrated labels/cards/forms.'" Lastly, some of the web pages included "some additional terms that refer to the product, such as 'integrated patch label' and 'label/form combination.'" Moreover, when the court attempted to recreate plaintiff's Internet search, it received a web page stating that "carrier labels" were also known as "integrated labels."
The court held that plaintiff’s evidence was "ambiguous as to the relevant public perception of the product at issue." In particular, defendant argued that distributors of integrated labels and manufacturers of business forms not making such labels were the only relevant public. The court disagreed, however, because these products were marketed to a "much broader consumer base." In addition, the majority of the references did not define or explain the products, and some even used other terms for the products. Accordingly, the court denied plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.
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