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Person’s Co., Ltd. V. Christman

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
900 F.2d 1565 (1990)


Facts

Person’s Co., Ltd. (plaintiff) was a Japanese clothing company that sold clothing in Japan with a stylized logo bearing the name “Person’s.” Larry Christman (defendant) was an American employee of a clothing wholesaler who visited a Person’s Co. store in Japan. After determining that the logo had not been registered in the United States, Christman began producing clothing bearing a copy of the “Person’s” logo, often on items that were copies of Person’s Co. designs, for sale in the U.S. Christman then filed a trademark application for the logo, which was granted. In the meantime, Person’s Co. had become more well known in Japan, made plans to expand into the U.S. market, and so also filed a trademark application for the logo, which was granted approximately a year after Christman’s registration. After the two entities became aware of the other’s actions, Person’s Co. initiated an action to cancel Christman’s registration, which Christman counterclaimed. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the board) granted Christman’s motion for summary judgment, on the grounds that Person’s Co.’s prior use of the mark in Japan could not be used to establish priority over a good faith senior user in U.S. commerce. The board based the ruling on the contention that it was not bad faith to copy a foreign mark unless that mark was well known in the U.S. or the copying was undertaken to interfere with the foreign user’s expansion into the U.S. market. Person’s Co. appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Smith, J.)

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