No Discovery, No Goodyman: Federal Cir. Affirms Default Judgment - Intellectual Property Law - Federal Circuit
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No Discovery, No Goodyman: Federal Cir. Affirms Default Judgment

In the battle over trademark supremacy, Super Bakery and “GOODY MAN” triumphed over Ward E. Benedict and his “G THE GOODYMAN” mark.

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s cancellation of Benedict’s trademark registration for repeatedly failing to comply with discovery requests and TTAB procedures.

Benedict had registered his trademark five months after Super Bakery in 2005. Both trademarks were registered in International Class 30 for bakery products. Two years later, Super Bakery filed a petition with TTAB to cancel Benedict’s mark on grounds of fraud and abandonment, and requested a number of documents from Benedict.

However, Benedict, acting pro se, failed to comply, much less object, to the discovery requests. After following their request with a motion to compel discovery that went unopposed, Super Bakery filed a motion for default judgment, which TTAB granted.

A unanimous Federal Circuit decision affirmed TTAB’s decision, with typically pro-applicant Judge Newman writing that “default judgment may be warranted in cases of repeated failure to comply with reasonable orders of the Trademark Board, when it is apparent that a lesser sanction would not be effective.”

Apparently, two years of failing to comply with discovery requests and orders was bad enough to “support the extreme sanction of default judgment.”

The case prompts us to remind practitioners to remember the basics when filing lawsuits, such as remembering to show up for your hearing and responding to discovery requests. In the age of email and smartphones, excuses that you did not receive discovery requests or hearing schedule changes won’t be tolerated by courts anymore.

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