from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Louisiana
DAVIS, HAYNES, and DUNCAN, Circuit Judges.
KYLE DUNCAN, Circuit Judge.
federal trademark infringement action involves a dispute
between two civic organizations over their logos:
older organization, Alliance for Good Government, developed
its logo in the late 1960s and has used it for fifty years in
advertisements and sample ballots to promote political
candidates in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana. The
younger organization, Coalition for Better Government,
developed its logo more recently (in the early 1980s or
1990s) and has also used it in sample ballots to promote
political candidates in New Orleans. While the groups have
locked talons before, the present appeal arises out of
Alliance's 2017 lawsuit seeking to enjoin Coalition's
use of its logo for federal trademark infringement under the
Lanham Act. The district court granted Alliance summary
judgment, finding that Coalition's logo infringed
Alliance's marks as a matter of law, and enjoined
Coalition from using both its name and logo in political
advertisements. Coalition appeals that ruling.
appeal, Coalition raises broad threshold questions concerning
the applicability of the Lanham Act to what it characterizes
as its political, noncommercial speech. We decline to address
those questions, because Coalition failed to properly raise
them below and the district court never reached them.
Coalition also attacks the summary judgment, claiming that
fact issues remain as to whether Alliance's marks are
valid and whether Coalition's logo would likely create
confusion with Alliance's. On the latter point,
Coalition's most curious argument-urged below and renewed
on appeal-is that the logos are different because its logo
features a hawk while Alliance's features an
eagle. We conclude the district court did not err in
deciding the birds are identical.
the summary judgment ruling de novo, we conclude
that the evidence establishes without dispute that
Alliance's logo is a valid composite mark and that the
use of Coalition's logo infringes Alliance's
composite mark as a matter of law. We modify the district
court's injunction in one respect, however. By its terms,
the injunction restrains Coalition from using its
name as well as its logo. We find that aspect of the
injunction overbroad and therefore modify it to restrain
Coalition's use of its logo only.
we AFFIRM the district court's summary judgment ruling,
but MODIFY the injunction to restrain only the use of
for Good Government ("Alliance") is a non-profit
civic organization formed in 1967 to promote "honest and
open government." Alliance's founding chapter is in
Orleans Parish, but it operates both in New Orleans and
throughout Louisiana. The organization hosts political
forums, endorses candidates, and participates in campaigns
through advertising. It also distributes and publishes sample
ballots featuring endorsed candidates.
ballots dating back to 1969 feature the same logo it
continues to use today-a design with the organization's
name in blue type on a rectangular white background arranged
around a stylized bird. Alliance considers its bird to be an
eagle. In 2013, Alliance registered its service
marks with the United States Patent and
Trademark Office ("PTO"): the word mark
"Alliance for Good Government," and the composite
mark consisting of the entire logo.
for Better Government ("Coalition") is a non-profit
civic organization formed in New Orleans in 1982 to endorse
political candidates. Coalition operates mainly in New
Orleans and promotes preferred candidates by advertising
sample ballots in New Orleans newspapers. Coalition and
Alliance sometimes endorse the same, or opposing, candidates:
candidates endorsed by each have run in the same election at
also has a logo, which it uses in sample ballots dating back
to at least 1992 (possibly the early 1980s). Coalition's
logo features its name in white type on a rectangular blue
background arranged around a stylized bird. Coalition's
bird appears identical to Alliance's, but Coalition
believes the birds are different types: Coalition considers
its bird to be a hawk, not an eagle.
pictures are worth a thousand words, here are the logos
first sued Coalition for trademark infringement in 2008 in
Louisiana state court. After skirmishing over venue, Alliance
moved to dismiss its suit when it believed Coalition had
stopped activity and ceased use of the Coalition logo. But in
2016 Coalition resumed using its logo to endorse political
candidates. Indeed, in the primary elections for Louisiana
district judges on March 25, 2017, Alliance and Coalition
endorsed opposing candidates. That same month Coalition filed
two applications with the PTO to register its name and logo,
which Alliance opposed.
April 2017, Alliance sued Coalition in federal court claiming
federal trademark infringement under 15 U.S.C. § 1114,
as well as various other federal and state trademark and
unfair trade practice claims. Coalition counterclaimed for,
inter alia, fraudulent trademark procurement under
15 U.S.C. § 1120. In August 2017 Coalition moved for
summary judgment arguing Alliance's suit was barred by
laches, and that same month Alliance moved for partial
summary judgment solely on federal trademark infringement.
The district court held a hearing on the cross-motions.
Ruling from the bench, the court denied Coalition's
motion for summary judgment on laches and granted
Alliance's motion for partial summary judgment on federal
trademark infringement. Alliance voluntarily dismissed its
remaining claims. Subsequently, the district court issued an
order permanently enjoining Coalition from using both its
name and logo. Coalition timely appealed the district
court's trademark infringement ruling and
review a grant of summary judgment de novo, applying
the same standard as the district court. Smith v.
Reg'l Transit Auth., 827 F.3d 412, 417 (5th Cir.
2016). Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings and
record materials show no genuine dispute as to any material
fact, entitling the movant to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). If the moving party initially shows the
non-movant's case lacks support, "the non-movant
must come forward with 'specific facts' showing a
genuine factual issue for trial." TIG Ins. Co. v.
Sedgwick James, 276 F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002). We
must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party, drawing all justifiable inferences in the
non-movant's favor. Envtl. Conservation Org. v. City
of Dallas, 529 F.3d 519, 524 (5th Cir. 2008).
prevail on a claim of federal trademark infringement under
the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1051 et seq., a
plaintiff must show (1) ownership of a legally protectable
mark and (2) a likelihood of confusion created by an
infringing mark. Nola Spice Designs, LLC v. Haydel
Enters., Inc., 783 F.3d 527, 536 (5th Cir. 2015);
Am. Rice, Inc. v. Producers Rice Mill, Inc., 518
F.3d 321, 329 (5th Cir. 2008). On appeal, Coalition first argues
that the Lanham Act cannot apply to its marks because
Coalition engages only in "political speech" and
does not engage in "commerce or the sale of goods."
Coalition failed to raise these arguments below, however, and
we decline to address them. Second, Coalition attacks the
district court's summary judgment grant, arguing that the
court erred in ruling that Alliance had a valid mark and that