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Sugar Busters, LLC, v. Brennan

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
177 F.3d 258 (1999)


Facts

Sugar Busters, L.L.C. (Sugar Busters) (plaintiff) was a company organized by authors who wrote the book “SUGAR BUSTERS! Cut Sugar to Trim Fat.” The book was about a diet plan designed by the authors. Sugar Busters obtained the right to use the trademark “SUGARBUSTERS” from Elliott Company, Inc., and Elliot Company, Inc. had obtained the right to use the trademark from Thronton-Sahoo, Inc. Thornton-Sahoo, Inc., in turn, had obtained the right to use the trademark from Sugarbusters Inc. Sugarbusters, Inc. had registered the trademark for a retail store that sold products and information to diabetics. Brennan (defendant) was a consultant hired by Sugar Busters to help with the publishing and marketing process. Brennan and one of the authors, Steward, also decided to write a cookbook based on the diet. Sugar Busters gave Brennan and Steward permission to publish the cookbook, but changed its mind about Steward’s engaging in an independent project. Steward encouraged Brennan to continue on the project since she was only a consultant. Brennan published the cookbook “SUGAR BUST for Life!” in 1988. Sugar Busters sued Brennan for trademark infringement and dilution and claimed that cookbook consumers were misled about the association between the cookbook and Sugar Busters. The district court granted the Sugar Busters a preliminary injunction, and Brennan appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (King, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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