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. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

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  3. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  4. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.

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