United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
HERNDON, District Judge
before the Court is plaintiff's motion in limine to
preclude the use of evidence or argument relating to the
color of logo mark (Docs. 195 & 196). Defendants oppose
the motion (Doc. 229). Based on the following, the Court
grants the motion.
district court has the inherent authority to manage the
course of a trial. Luce v. United States, 469 U.S.
38, 41 n. 4, 105 S.Ct. 460, 83 L.Ed.2d 443 (1984). The court
may exercise this power by issuing an evidentiary ruling in
advance of trial. Id. A party may seek such a ruling
by filing a motion in limine, which requests the
court's guidance on what evidence will (or will not) be
admitted at trial. Perry v. City of Chicago, 733
F.3d 248, 252 (7th Cir.2013). Prudent motions in limine
serve a gatekeeping function by allowing the judge “to
eliminate from further consideration evidentiary submissions
that clearly ought not be presented to the jury.”
Jonasson v. Lutheran Child & Family Servs., 115
F.3d 436, 440 (7th Cir. 1997). By defining the evidentiary
boundaries, motions in limine both permit “the
parties to focus their preparation on those matters that will
be considered by the jury, ” id. and help
ensure “that trials are not interrupted mid-course for
the consideration of lengthy and complex evidentiary issues,
” United States v. Tokash, 282 F.3d 962, 968
(7th Cir . 2002).
all evidentiary matters, the court has broad discretion when
ruling on motions in limine. United States v.
Ajayi, 808 F.3d 1113, 1121 (7th Cir. 2015); Jenkins
v. Chrysler Motors Corp., 316 F.3d 663, 664 (7th Cir.
2002). Moreover, the Court can change its ruling at trial,
“even if nothing unexpected happens[.]”
Luce, 469 U.S. at 41, 105 S.Ct. 460. Ruling in
limine are speculative in effect; essentially, they are
advisory opinions. Wilson v. Williams, 182 F.3d 562,
570 (7th Cir. 1999) (Coffey, J., concurring in part and
dissenting in part).
4SEMO.com moves the Court to preclude defendants from arguing
that any use of the Logo Mark at issue in this case, which
consists of a Greek cross with the words Life Saver Storm
Shelters embedded in the horizontal arm, was somehow improper
or did not constitute a trademark use or a use in commerce,
or was not legally protectable, if such logo used the color
red as the background color within the Greek cross. 4SEMO.com
contends that it has used the Logo with various colors,
including a yellow cross with red lettering, and a red cross
with yellow lettering. 4SEMO.com asserts that to imply that
its use was somehow improper or insufficient or that the mark
is for any reason not enforceable or protectable against
defendants would confuse the jury and significantly prejudice
4SEMO.com. In response, defendants state that the evidence
shows that SISS and 4SEMO.com only used the logo with the red
Greek cross until it was refused by the United States Patent
and Trademark Office as not being a lawful use in commerce.
Thus, defendants contend that the evidence is relevant and
admissible as they cannot have infringed on an unprotectable
Court rejects defendants' argument.
defendants rest their argument on the ruling of the patent
and trademark office which is not the last word on this
issue; particularly since they seem to misread the statute.
18 U.S.C. § 706 provides:
Whoever wears or displays the sign of the Red Cross or any
insignia colored in imitation thereof for the fraudulent
purpose of inducing the belief that he is a member of or an
agent for the American National Red Cross; or
Whoever, whether a corporation, association or person, other
than the American National Red Cross and its duly authorized
employees and agents and the sanitary and hospital
authorities of the armed forces of the United States, uses
the emblem of the Greek red cross on a white ground, or any
sign or insignia made or colored in imitation thereof or the
words “Red Cross” or “Geneva Cross”
or any combination of these words--
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than
six months, or both.
This section shall not make unlawful the use of any such
emblem, sign, insignia or words which was lawful on the date
of enactment of this title.
the statute prohibits someone from fraudulently trying to
hold themselves out as an agent or a member of the American
National Red Cross through the use of the Greek red cross on
a white background or through the use of the words or the
words Geneva Cross. Defendants are not suggesting that type
of activity took place in this case. Nevertheless, the Court
finds that the motion should be granted as the evidence would
be irrelevant and prejudicial to the plaintiff.
the Court GRANTS the motion to preclude the use of evidence
or argument relating to the color of logo mark (Doc. 195).
The Court BARS defendants from introducing any evidence of
belief, statement or position, or from in any manner stating,
claiming, arguing, or inferring that any use of the logo mark
was somehow improper or did not constitute a trademark use or
a use in commerce, or that such mark was not legally
protectable, if such ...