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McDavid Knee Guard, Inc. v. Nike USA

July 28, 2010

MCDAVID KNEE GUARD, INC., AND STIRLING MOULDINGS LIMITED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NIKE USA, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. Holderman, Chief Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

McDavid Knee Guard and Stirling Mouldings Limited (collectively "McDavid") filed this lawsuit against Nike USA, Inc. ("Nike"), asserting claims for patent infringement and violations of the Lanham Act and various other state unfair competition laws. Currently before the court is Nike's "Motion for Summary Judgment of All Causes of Action" (Dkt. No. 179 ("Nike's Mot.")). In a separate opinion issued today, the court has granted McDavid's "Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint" (Dkt. No. 253), which replaces originally asserted U.S. Patent No. 6,743,325 with the recently issued Reissue Patent No. RE41,346. Accordingly, this opinion is limited to McDavid's non-patent unfair competition claims against Nike. For the reasons explained below, the court grants Nike's motion for summary judgment as to each of McDavid's non-patent unfair competition claims.

BACKGROUND

Both Nike and McDavid sell "padded compression shorts," also referred to as "padded girdles," which athletes wear to prevent injuries. (Dkt. No. 207 (" McDavid's Opp.") at 8-9; Dkt. No. 208 ("Pls.' Local R. 56.1(b)(3) Resp.") ¶ 9.) Nike has exclusive supplier agreements with several colleges and universities, whereby Nike is the exclusive supplier of athletic competition apparel for those schools. (Pls.' Local R. 56.1(b)(3) Resp. ¶¶ 39-40.) On or around October 2008, "Nike informed personnel connected with teams at certain universities that have agreements with Nike that the team members were not allowed to use McDavid foam padded girdles under the terms of their agreements with Nike." (Dkt. No. 88, Answer Am. Compl. ¶ 27.)*fn1

Based on these statements to certain colleges and universities, McDavid amended its complaint to assert claims against Nike under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125 (Count V), the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, 815 ILCS 505/1 et seq. (Count II), and the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, 815 ILCS 510/1 et seq. (Count III), in addition to a claim for tortious interference with prospective business advantage under Illinois law (Count IV). (Dkt. No. 56, Ex. 1; see also Pls.' Local R. 56.1(b)(3) Resp. ¶¶ 31, 33.) Nike has moved for summary judgment on each of these claims.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2). In assessing whether summary judgment is appropriate, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

ANALYSIS

I. Count V--Lanham Act Claim

Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act establishes civil liability for false or deception advertising:

Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, which--

(B) in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin of his or her or another person's goods, services, or commercial activities, shall be liable in a civil action by any person who believes that he or she is or is likely to be damaged by such act.

15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1).

According to the Seventh Circuit,*fn2 a claim for false or deceptive advertising under the Lanham Act requires ...


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