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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. Looks like 2017 will be another notable year for these cases. I have a Grandson involved in a CHINS case that should never have been. He and the whole family are being held hostage by CPS and the 'current mood' of the CPS caseworker. If the parents disagree with a decision, they are penalized. I, along with other were posting on Jasper County Online News, but all were quickly warned to remove posts. I totally understand that some children need these services, but in this case, it was mistakes, covered by coorcement of father to sign papers, lies and cover-ups. The most astonishing thing was within 2 weeks of this child being placed with CPS, a private adoption agency was asking questions regarding child's family in the area. I believe a photo that was taken by CPS manager at the very onset during the CHINS co-ocerment and the intent was to make money. I have even been warned not to post or speak to anyone regarding this case. Parents have completed all requirements, met foster parents, get visitation 2 days a week, and still the next court date is all the way out till May 1, which gives them(CPS) plenty of to time make further demands (which I expect) No trust of these 'seasoned' case managers, as I have already learned too much about their dirty little tricks. If they discover that I have posted here, I expect they will not be happy and penalized parents again. Still a Hostage.

  2. They say it was a court error, however they fail to mention A.R. was on the run from the law and was hiding. Thus why she didn't receive anything from her public defender. Step mom is filing again for adoption of the two boys she has raised. A.R. is a criminal with a serious heroin addiction. She filed this appeal MORE than 30 days after the final decision was made from prison. Report all the facts not just some.

  3. Hysteria? Really Ben? Tell the young lady reported on in the link below that worrying about the sexualizing of our children is mere hysteria. Such thinking is common in the Royal Order of Jesters and other running sex vacays in Thailand or Brazil ... like Indy's Jared Fogle. Those tempted to call such concerns mere histronics need to think on this: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-12-year-old-girl-live-streamed-her-suicide-it-took-two-weeks-for-facebook-to-take-the-video-down/ar-AAlT8ka?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartanntp

  4. This is happening so much. Even in 2016.2017. I hope the father sue for civil rights violation. I hope he sue as more are doing and even without a lawyer as pro-se, he got a good one here. God bless him.

  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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