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Radiance Foundation v. NAACP - National Association for the Abortion of Colored People Trademark Opinion

Radiance Foundation v. NAACP - National Association for the Abortion of Colored People Trademark Opinion

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Published by Mark H. Jaffe
After a bench trial (this is where the judge takes on a jury's role as well as the judicial role), the court found that the Radiance Foundation's use of the "National Association for the Advancement of Colored People" infringes and dilutes the NAACP's trademark in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

This is the Radiance Foundation's billboard:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BmVfRkcCQAANtZA.jpg:large

For informational purposes only. Not legal advice. I am not representing any parties in this action. For more information about our practice, see:
http://torekeland.com/about/mark-h-jaffe
and legal tidbits on my twitter feed:
@MarkJKings
After a bench trial (this is where the judge takes on a jury's role as well as the judicial role), the court found that the Radiance Foundation's use of the "National Association for the Advancement of Colored People" infringes and dilutes the NAACP's trademark in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

This is the Radiance Foundation's billboard:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BmVfRkcCQAANtZA.jpg:large

For informational purposes only. Not legal advice. I am not representing any parties in this action. For more information about our practice, see:
http://torekeland.com/about/mark-h-jaffe
and legal tidbits on my twitter feed:
@MarkJKings

More info:

Published by: Mark H. Jaffe on Apr 28, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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04/29/2014

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original

 
IN
THE
UNITED
STATESDISTRICT
COURT
FOR
THE
EASTERN
DISTRICT
OF
VIRGINIA
Norfolk
Division
THE
RADIANCE
FOUNDATION
INC
etal.,
Plaintiffs
NATIONAL
ASSOCIATION
FOR
THE
ADVANCEMENT
OF
COLORED
PEOPLE
Defendant
CIVILACTION
NO
2:13cv53
MEMOR N UMOPINION
 N
OR ER
ThisMemorandum
Opinion
and
Order
is
issued
aftera
bench
trial
inthe
above-styled
mattertoresolvetrademarkinfringementandtrademarkdilutionclaims.
On
February
1,
2013,
the
RadianceFoundation,
Inc.
( Radiance )and
Ryan
Bomberger
( Bomberger )broughtthisactionfordeclaratoryjudgmentagainsttheNationalAssociationfor
theAdvancementofColoredPeople( Defendant or NAACP ).RadianceandBomberger(togetherreferredtoas Plaintiffs )
moved
thisCourttoenterjudgmentdeclaringthattheiruse
of
certain
marks
allegedly
owned
bythe
NAACPwas
not
infringing,tarnishing
or
diluting
in
violation
of
common
laworthe
Lanham
Act.
Radiance
and
Bomberger
alsorequested
thatthe
Courtdeclare
their
useof
these
trademarksprotected
under
the
First
Amendmentright
to
free
speech.
The
NAACPfiled
four
counterclaimsagainstRadiance
and
Bomberger,
asserting
itis
entitledtorelieffortrademarkinfringementandtrademarkdilutionundertheLanhamActand
theVirginia
Code.
TheNAACPclaimedPlaintiffs'useofitsfederallyregisteredtrademarks NAACP and ImageAwards andaswellastheunregistered NationalAssociationforthe
Case 2:13-cv-00053-RAJ-DEM Document 89 Filed 04/24/14 Page 1 of 52 PageID# 3011
 
Advancement
of
ColoredPeople nameandScalesofJusticeSeal(referredtocollectivelyas
 NAACP
Marks )wasunlawful.
TheCourtheldabenchtrial,whichcommencedonDecember10,2013.Thepartieshave
filedpost-trialbriefsandthismatterisnowripeforjudicialdetermination.TheCourtissuesthe
followingFindings
of
FactandConclusions
of
Law,asrequiredbyRule52(a)
of
theFederal
Rules
of
CivilProcedure.Forthereasonssetforthherein,RadianceandBomberger'srequest
fordeclaratory
judgment
intheirfavoris
DENIED
Onthe
NAACP s
counterclaims,theCourt
FINDS
thatPlaintiffsareliablefortrademarkinfringementandtrademarkdilution
of
the
 NAACP and NationalAssociationfortheAdvancement
of
ColoredPeople trademarks.
I
FACTUAL
FINDINGS
A
Factual
and
ProceduralHistory
Radiance,anon-profitorganizationfoundedbyBomberger,educatesthepublicabout
socialissuesfromaChristianperspective.Compl.
KK
1,8.TheNAACPisacivilrights
organizationthatprovideseducationalandoutreachservicestoAfricanAmericans.Countercl.
KK
8-9.AfterNAACPexecutivespubliclycriticizedPlaintiffs'anti-abortionbillboardsin2010
and2011,BombergerwrotethreenewsarticlescritiquingtheNAACP'spositiononabortion,
employing
the
phrase
 National
Association
for
the
Abortion
of
Colored
People. 1
Compl.
KK
13-15.ThesearticleswerepostedonRadiance'swebsitesTooManyAborted.comand
TheRadianceFoundation.orgaswellasonathirdpartywebsiteLifeNcws.com.
Compl.
KK
14-
20.Thefirstarticle,publishedJune21,
2011
onTooManyAborted.com,hadaheadlinethatread
 NAACP:NationalAssociationfortheAbortion
of
ColoredPeople anddiscussedDefendant's
'
Initially,California
NAACP
ChapterPresident
Alice
Huffman
called
Radiance's
billboards
 horribly
racist.
Trial
Transcript107:16-108:2(hereinafter Tr. ).Then,inJuneof2011,theHuffingtonPostpublishedanarticleabout
Radiance'sbillboardsinGeorgia,quotingtheNAACP'sWashingtonBureauDirectorandSeniorVicePresidentfor
AdvocacyandPolicyHilarySheltonascriticizingthecampaignforcomparingabortiontoslavery.Tr.at
108:6-
109:10.
Case 2:13-cv-00053-RAJ-DEM Document 89 Filed 04/24/14 Page 2 of 52 PageID# 3012
 
endorsement
of
the2004MarchforWomen'sLives.Compl.K15.ThesecondarticlefromJuly
6,2011,publishedonLifeNews.com,includedagraphic
of
theScales
of
JusticeSealandstated
thatNationalAssociationfortheAbortion
of
ColoredPeoplewouldbeafittingmonikerfortheNAACP.Compl.
KK
19-20.Thethirdarticle,publishedonTheRadianceFoundation.org,
LifeNews.comandTooManyAborted.cominJanuary
of
2013,discussedtheNAACP'sAnnual
ImageAwards.
Compl.
KK
23-26.2
This
article
employed
the
phrase NationalAssociation
for
theAbortionofColoredPeople throughoutitstextandheadline.
Id.
Additionally,Bomberger
madeaspeechinDecember
of
2012,duringwhichhestated, GroupssuchastheNAACP
(whichhas
become
TheNationalAssociationfortheAbortionofColoredPeople)andthe
CongressionalBlackCaucusaidandabetthismassdestruction
of
beautifulpotentialintheblack
community, astatementthatwaslaterpostedonTooManyAborted.com.Compl.K22.TheNAACPbecameaware
of
Radiance'suse
of
itsmarksthroughaGoogleAlertthat
identified
the
thirdarticle
on
LifeNews.com
asa
 hit
when
a
search
for
 NAACP
was
performed.OnJanuary28,2013,the
NAACP
sentPlaintiffsaletterthreateningtotake
legal
actionifRadianceandBombergerdidnotceasetousetheNAACPMarks.Compl.,Ex.7.On
February1,2013,RadiancefiledaComplaintfordeclaratoryjudgment,assertingthatitsuseof
the
NAACPMarks
does
not
constitute
infringement,tarnishment
or
dilution
and
is
protected
speechundertheFirstAmendment.OnApril8,2013,theNAACPfiledcounterclaimsfor
trademarkinfringementandfederalunfaircompetitionundertheLanhamAct,trademarkdilution
under
the
Trademark
DilutionRevision
Act,
and
Virginiacommon
law
trademarkinfringement
andunfaircompetition.
2
Thisthird
article,
first
published
in
January
2013,
is
the
article
upon
which
the
NAACPbases
its
counterclaims.
Seeinfra
PartI,SectionC,point14.
Case 2:13-cv-00053-RAJ-DEM Document 89 Filed 04/24/14 Page 3 of 52 PageID# 3013

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