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Mom and pop store can’t proceed pro se in Coach trademark lawsuit

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The owners of a southern Indiana general store accused in a federal lawsuit of selling knockoff high-end Coach-brand products may not represent pro se their incorporated general store named in the suit.

New York-based Coach Inc. sued Dyer’s General Store and Outlet in Worthington, also naming its owners, Kimberly and David Dyer. The suit, filed three months ago, claims an investigator hired by Coach purchased a counterfeit wristlet bearing a Coach trademark at the store and observed handbags and accessories that “had trademarks for high-end brands including, but not limited to, Coach.”  

The suit seeks damages and fees for alleged Lanham Act violations including trademark counterfeiting, trademark infringement and false advertising; common law trademark infringement, unfair competition, forgery, counterfeiting and unjust enrichment.

“Coach is suffering irreparable injury, has suffered substantial damages as a result of Defendants’ activities,” the suit alleges. The case in the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division, is Coach, Inc. and Coach Services, Inc. v. Dyer’s General Store and Outlet, Kimberly Dyer, and David L. Dyer, 2:13-cv-0411.

David Dyer filed a pro se response in which he said Dyer’s doesn’t deny the allegations but believed the products it bought and sold were “designer inspired” and that the store has since removed the items and worked with Coach “with the desire to resolve all concerns with promptness and diligence.”

But District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson on Tuesday ordered the corporate entity to appear by counsel and file an answer to Coach’s complaint by March 13.

“The Court notes that corporations cannot appear pro se, but must appear through an attorney,” she wrote, citing Nocula v. UGS Corp., 520 F.3d 719, 725 (7th Cir. 2008). The Dyers may represent themselves, but “Dyer’s General cannot represent itself and the Dyers cannot represent Dyer’s General either.”

Dyer’s is the latest Indiana retailer sued in federal court as Coach pursues an aggressive defense of its intellectual property, asserting in the suit that its marks “are widely recognized and exclusively associated by consumers, the public and the trade as being high quality products sourced from Coach, and have acquired a strong secondary meaning.”

Since 2009, Coach has filed at least 21 lawsuits against retailers in Indiana federal courts. Just two, including the suit against Dyer’s, remain open.
 

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  1. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  2. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  3. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  4. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  5. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

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