The opinion of the court was delivered by: KEYS
This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment,
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the following reasons, this Court grants Defendant's Motion.
Plaintiff, Door Systems, Inc., sells and services automatic doors and their controlling devices. Plaintiff has used the name "Door Systems", in connection with its services and products, continuously since approximately 1980. On December 26, 1989, Plaintiff registered a trademark under § 2(f) of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1052. The registered trademark is a rectangle in which the word "door" is written in white letters against a black background, followed by the word "systems" written in black letters against a white background. The lettering is stylized, with the first letters of "door" and "systems" creating part of the rectangular boundary housing the logo. Since at least 1984, Plaintiff's advertising has incorporated the registered design.
Pro-Line Door Systems, Inc., sells and services automatic doors and their controlling devices. Defendant has used the term "door systems" in its name, and in connection with its services and products, as well as its advertising, since 1986.
A number of other businesses throughout the United States, including, but not limited to, manufacturers of overhead garage doors, use the term "door systems" in their trade names. Additionally, several registered federal and state trademarks incorporate the words "door" and "systems". Further, the 1992-1993 Product Reference Manual of the Door Operators and Dealers Association indicated that several manufacturers of overhead garage doors use the term "door systems" in their names or advertising.
On June 2, 1993, Magistrate Judge Gottschall granted summary judgment as to Count I, in favor of Defendant, on the grounds that the term "door systems" is generic and, therefore, is not entitled to protection under federal law.
Summary Judgment Standard
Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate if "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). This standard places the initial burden on the moving party to identify "those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986) (quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c).) Summary judgment is then appropriate, unless there is "sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party." County of Vernon v. United States, 933 F.2d 532, 534 (7th Cir. 1991); see also Jones v. Banks, 878 F. Supp. 107, 110 (N.D. Ill. 1995). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986); Griffin v. Thomas, 929 F.2d 1210, 1212 (7th Cir. 1991). However, the Court is "not required to draw every conceivable inference from the record [in favor of the non-movant] -- only those inferences that are reasonable". Bank Leumi Le-Israel, B.M. v. Lee, 928 F.2d 232, 236 (7th Cir. 1991).
Count II -- False Designation of Origin
Count II of Plaintiff's Complaint requests damages, resulting from Defendant's alleged false designation of origin, under § 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125. As discussed above, Magistrate Judge Gottschall found "door systems" to be a generic term. Once a word is determined to be generic, the word can be used by any competitor to describe its product. See Sunmark, Inc. v. Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., 64 F.3d 1055, 1058 (7th Cir. 1995); Blau Plumbing, Inc. v. S.O.S. Fix-It, Inc., 781 F.2d 604, 609 (7th Cir. 1986); see also Liquid Controls Corp. v. Liquid Control Corp., 802 F.2d 934, 935 (7th Cir. 1986) ("A generic or common descriptive term can never function as a trademark.")
Notwithstanding Magistrate Judge Gottschall's ruling, Plaintiff argues that it is still entitled to relief under § 43 of the Lanham Act. Section 43(a)(1) of the Lanham Act, as amended, provides that:
Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services . . . uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin . . . which-
(A) is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods, ...