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Timberstone Management LLC v. Idaho Golf Partners, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

November 6, 2014

TIMBERSTONE MANAGEMENT LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
IDAHO GOLF PARTNERS, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHARLES P. KOCORAS, District Judge.

Now before the Court is Defendant Idaho Golf Partners, Inc.'s ("Idaho Golf") motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). For the following reasons, Idaho Golf's motion is granted.

BACKGROUND[1]

Plaintiff TimberStone Management, LLC's ("TimberStone") is an Illinois limited liability company, which owns and operates the TimberStone Golf Course in Iron Mountain, Michigan (the "Michigan TimberStone Golf Course"). TimberStone maintains its corporate headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. TimberStone's management is centered in their Chicago office, which also serves as a repository for virtually all of their corporate records.

Idaho Golf is an Idaho domestic company located and doing business in Caldwell, Idaho. Idaho Golf owns and also operates the TimberStone golf course in Caldwell, Idaho (the "Idaho TimberStone Golf Course"). Idaho Golf opened the Idaho TimberStone Golf Course in July 2011.

TimberStone owns the United States Trademark Registration for the "TIMBERSTONE" mark to be used for its golf course (the "TIMBERSTONE Registration"). The TIMBERSTONE Registration was filed on January 12, 2012 and was formally registered on June 11, 2013. The TIMBERSTONE Registration notes that the owner of the Trademark is TimberStone.

Since June 1996, TimberStone has used the "TIMBERSTONE" moniker (the "TIMBERSTONE Mark") in commerce to identify and distinguish the Michigan TimberStone Golf Course, which opened to the public on June 1, 1997. Since then, the TIMBERSTONE Mark has been continuously used in association with the Michigan TimberStone Golf Course and through TimberStone's licensees on various golf-related items. Since its inception, TimberStone has engaged in an extensive national advertising campaign of the Michigan TimberStone Golf Course and has been recognized as one of the preeminent golf course in the United States.

Since October 1997, TimberStone has operated its website under the domain name www.timberstone.com (the "TIMBERSTONE Website"). The TIMBERSTONE Website provides information about the Michigan TimberStone Golf Course, its pricing structure, news, events, offers and indirect sales, and accommodates reservation requests from prospective visitors to the Michigan TimberStone Golf Course. TimberStone also maintains numerous social media platforms on Facebook and Twitter, incorporating the TIMBERSTONE Mark.

Without prior authorization from TimberStone to use the TIMBERSTONE Mark, in February 2011, Idaho Golf obtained and assumed the business name "TimberStone Golf Course" from the Idaho Secretary of State. After the acquisition of the name, Idaho Golf began using the name to promote the Idaho TimberStone Golf Course. In April 2011, Idaho Golf registered the domain name www.playtimberstone.com. In June 2011, Idaho Golf opened the Idaho TimberStone Golf Course.

On April 4, 2012, TimberStone discovered Idaho Golf's usage of the TIMBERSTONE Mark and immediately sent a cease and desist letter to Idaho Golf. The cease and desist letter identified TimberStone as the owner of Michigan TimberStone Golf Course and was sent from its counsel in Chicago, Illinois. On April 19, 2012, Idaho Golf responded to the cease and desist letter and sent a letter to TimberStone in Chicago, Illinois.

Between April 2012 and July 2013, counsel for Idaho Golf in Idaho engaged in multiple telephone conversations with TimberStone in Illinois. In the course of these discussions Idaho Golf was again informed of TimberStone's common law rights to the TIMBERSTONE Mark. Idaho Golf refused to discontinue its use of the TIMBERSTONE Mark.

On July 19, 2013, TimberStone became aware of Idaho Golf's Facebook page advertising the "TimberStone Golf Course" in Caldwell, Idaho. TimberStone immediately reported the unauthorized use of the TIMBERSTONE Mark to Facebook, which removed the content. On August 2, 2013, TimberStone sent Idaho Golf a copy of the TIMBERSTONE Registration. Despite Idaho Golf's knowledge of the federal registration for the TIMBERSTONE Mark, Idaho Golf did not discontinue its use of the term. Instead on August 19, 2013, Idaho Golf began the process of registering the TIMBERSTONE Mark with the Idaho Secretary of State.

After Idaho Golf's previous Facebook page had been removed, Idaho Golf created a new Facebook ("Idaho Golf's Second Facebook Page") page advertising the Idaho TimberStone Golf Course. Idaho Golf's Second Facebook Page was in use between July 2013 and April 2014. When TimberStone discovered Idaho Golf's Second Facebook Page in April 2014, Facebook was made aware of the infringement and immediately removed the page for the second time. Shortly after Idaho Golf's Second Facebook Page was removed by Facebook, Idaho Golf's counsel sent an e-mail to TimberStone in Illinois, offering TimberStone $1, 000 to acquire the limited use of the TIMBERSTONE Mark. TimberStone rejected the offer and again demanded that Idaho Golf cease its use of the TIMBERSTONE Mark. Idaho Golf has continued to use the TIMBERSTONE Mark to market the Idaho TimberStone Golf Course.

On July 14, 2014, Idaho Golf filed an action under the Lanham Act and other federal claims in conjunction with state law causes of action in Idaho federal court. Idaho Golf Partners v. TimberStone Management, LLC et al., No. 14 cv 233 (D. Idaho 2014). On July 18, 2014, TimberStone filed the instant complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. TimberStone's complaint alleges seven causes of action: (1) federal trademark infringement; (2) unfair competition and false designation of origin; (3) federal trademark dilution; (4) cybersquatting; (5) violation of Illinois deceptive practices act; (6) common law trademark and trade name infringement; and (7) intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. On August 11, 2014, Idaho Golf submitted the instant motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction ...


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