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UNI TED STATES DI STRI CT COURT
CENTRAL DI STRI CT OF CALI FORNI A
ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSI C,
Pl ai nt i f f ,
v.
ACM RECORDS, I NC. , a New
J er sey cor por at i on; ALAN
COHEN; EVELYNE COHEN,
Def endant s.
___________________________
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Case No. CV 13- 02448 DDP ( RZx)
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION
FOR LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED
COMPLAINT
[ Dkt . No. 44. ]
Bef or e t he cour t i s Pl ai nt i f f Academy of Count r y Musi c’ s
Mot i on f or Leave t o Fi l e an Amended Compl ai nt . ( Dkt . No. 44. ) The
mat t er i s f ul l y br i ef ed and sui t abl e f or deci si on wi t hout or al
ar gument . Havi ng consi der ed t he par t i es’ submi ssi ons, t he cour t
adopt s t he f ol l owi ng or der gr ant i ng t he mot i on.
I. Background
Pl ai nt i f f f i l ed t he i nst ant act i on agai nst Def endant s ACM
Recor ds, I nc. , Al an Cohen, and Evel yn Cohen ( “Def endant s”) on Apr i l
5, 2013, al l egi ng common l aw t r ade mar k i nf r i ngement , LanhamAct
t r ademar k i nf r i ngement and di l ut i on, and var i ous r el at ed st at e l aw
Case 2:13-cv-02448-DDP-RZ Document 57 Filed 06/10/14 Page 1 of 8 Page ID #:654
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cl ai ms. ( Dkt . No. 1) . Def endant s answer ed and f i l ed count er cl ai ms
on J ul y 28, 2013. ( Dkt . Nos. 17, 18. )
On Sept ember 13, 2013, t he cour t i ssued a Schedul i ng Or der ,
set t i ng December 8, 2013 as t he l ast day t o amend t he pl eadi ngs.
( Dkt . No. 33. )
On Apr i l 18, 2014, Pl ai nt i f f moved f or l eave t o f i l e a Fi r st
Amended Compl ai nt . ( Dkt . No. 44. ) Pl ai nt i f f seeks t o add a cl ai m
f or cancel l at i on of a t r ademar k r egi st r at i on, whi ch Pl ai nt i f f
al l eges was i mpr oper l y obt ai ned by Def endant s and t o add r el at ed
f act ual al l egat i ons. Pl ai nt i f f asser t s t hat t he basi s f or t he
pr oposed addi t i onal cl ai mwas not di scover ed unt i l cer t ai n
i nf or mat i on was obt ai ned dur i ng deposi t i ons of Def endant s Al an and
Evel yne Cohen whi ch t ook pl ace i n Mar ch 2014. ( Mot i on at 4. )
Pl ai nt i f f asser t s t hat i t i ni t i al l y sought , dur i ng l at e
December 2013, t o t ake t he Cohens deposi t i ons on J anuar y 22, 2014.
( Decl ar at i on of Pat r i ck C. St ephenson i n Suppor t of Mot i on ¶ 2 &
Ex. 1. ) However , accor di ng t o Pl ai nt i f f , Def endant s wer e not
avai l abl e dur i ng J anuar y 2014 or t he f i r st t wo weeks of Febr uar y
2014. ( I d. ¶ 4. ) Fol l owi ng a f ur t her del ay r esul t i ng f r omi ncl ement
weat her , t he deposi t i ons wer e ul t i mat el y t aken on Mar ch 10 and 11,
2014. ( I d. ¶ 6. )
Pl ai nt i f f asser t s t hat , dur i ng hi s Mar ch 11, 2014 deposi t i on,
Al an Cohen gave t est i mony t o t he ef f ect t hat t he appl i cat i on f or
t he t r ademar k at i ssue i n t hi s case was f i l ed i n t he name of t he
wr ong owner . ( I d. ¶ 8. ) Speci f i cal l y, Pl ai nt i f f cont ends i t l ear ned
t hr ough Mr . Cohen’ s t est i mony t hat at t he t i me t hat Appl i cat i on
Ser i al No. 77362636 ( t he “Appl i cat i on”) f or t he “ACM Recor ds” mar k
was f i l ed wi t h t he Uni t ed St at es Pat ent and Tr ademar k Of f i ce by
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“Al an or Evel yn Cohen d/ b/ a ACM Recor ds, I nc. , ” any r i ght s t hat
Def endant s owned i n t he mar k woul d have, pur suant t o an assi gnment ,
been owned by ACM Recor ds, I nc. , r at her t han Al an or Evel yn Cohen.
( I d. ) Pl ai nt i f f t her ef or e cont ends t hat t hi s al l eged er r or as t o
t he owner shi p of t he mar k i s t he basi s f or a t r ademar k cancel l at i on
cl ai mof whi ch Pl ai nt i f f was pr evi ousl y unawar e and whi ch i t seeks
t o i ncl ude as Count I X of i t s pr oposed Fi r st Amended Compl ai nt .
( Dkt . No. 45. )
II. Legal Standard
Gener al l y, cour t s may gr ant l eave t o amend whenever “j ust i ce
so r equi r es. ” Fed. R. Ci v. P. 15( a) ( 2) . Pr i or t o t he cut of f dat e
f or t he amendment of pl eadi ngs, r equest s f or l eave t o amend shoul d
be gr ant ed wi t h “ext r eme l i ber al i t y. ” Moss v. U. S. Secr et Ser vi ce,
572 F. 3d 962, 972 ( 9t h Ci r . 2009) . Under such ci r cumst ances, cour t s
consi der f act or s such as undue del ay, pr ej udi ce t o t he opposi ng
par t y, bad f ai t h, and f ut i l i t y of amendment i n det er mi ni ng whet her
t o gr ant l eave t o amend. Foman v. Davi s, 371 U. S. 178, 182 ( 1962) .
However , when a par t y seeks t o amend a pl eadi ng after t he
pr et r i al schedul i ng or der ’ s deadl i ne f or amendi ng t he pl eadi ngs has
expi r ed, t he l i ber al st andar d of Rul e 15 no l onger appl i es.
J ohnson v. Mammot h Recr eat i ons, 975 F. 2d 604, 607- 08 ( 9t h Ci r .
1992) . The movi ng par t y must i nst ead sat i sf y t he “good cause”
r equi r ement of Rul e 16( b) ( 4) , whi ch r equi r es t hat “[ a] schedul e may
be modi f i ed onl y f or good cause and wi t h t he j udge’ s consent . ”
Fed. R. Ci v. Pr oc. 16( b) ( 4) ; see J ohnson, 975 F. 2d at 608- 10 ( 9t h
Ci r . 1992) . “Unl i ke Rul e 15( a) ’ s l i ber al amendment pol i cy whi ch
f ocuses on t he bad f ai t h of t he par t y seeki ng t o i nt er pose an
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amendment and t he pr ej udi ce t o t he opposi ng par t y, Rul e 16( b) ’ s
‘ good cause’ st andar d pr i mar i l y consi der s t he di l i gence of t he
par t y seeki ng t he amendment . The di st r i ct cour t may modi f y t he
pr et r i al schedul e i f i t cannot r easonabl y be met despi t e t he
di l i gence of t he par t y seeki ng t he ext ensi on. ” J ohnson, 975 F. 2d at
609 ( i nt er nal quot at i on mar ks omi t t ed) ; see al so Col eman v. Quaker
Oat s Co. , 232 F. 3d 1271, 1294- 95 ( 9t h Ci r . 2000) .
I n t he case of a mot i on t o modi f y t he Schedul i ng Or der t o
amend a pl eadi ng, t he movi ng par t y may est abl i sh good cause by
showi ng “( 1) t hat [ he or she] was di l i gent i n assi st i ng t he cour t
i n cr eat i ng a wor kabl e Rul e 16 or der ; ( 2) t hat [ hi s or her ]
noncompl i ance wi t h a r ul e 16 deadl i ne occur r ed or wi l l occur ,
not wi t hst andi ng [ hi s or her ] di l i gent ef f or t s t o compl y, because of
t he devel opment of mat t er s whi ch coul d not have been r easonabl y
f or eseen or ant i ci pat ed at t he t i me of t he Rul e 16 schedul i ng
conf er ence; and ( 3) t hat [ he or she] was di l i gent i n seeki ng
amendment of t he Rul e 16 or der , once i t became appar ent t hat [ he or
she] coul d not compl y wi t h t he or der . ” Hood v. Har t f or d Li f e and
Acc. I ns. Co. , 567 F. Supp. 2d 1221, 1224 ( E. D. Cal 2008) ( quot at i on
mar ks and ci t at i on omi t t ed) .
III. Discussion
The cour t now di scusses t he i nst ant mot i on i n l i ght of t he
f act or s out l i ned i n Hood.
As t o t he f i r st pr ong, t her e i s no di sput e t hat Pl ai nt i f f was
di l i gent i n assi st i ng t he cour t i n cr eat i ng a wor kabl e Rul e 16
or der .
As t o t he second pr ong, t he par t i es di sput e whet her Pl ai nt i f f
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coul d have “r easonabl y f or eseen or ant i ci pat ed” t he subj ect of t he
pr oposed addi t i onal cl ai mat t he t i me of t he Rul e 16 schedul i ng
conf er ence. Def endant s cont end t hat Pl ai nt i f f shoul d have
ant i ci pat ed t he cl ai mbecause t he pr osecut i on hi st or y of t he
t r ademar k at i ssue, whi ch has been publ i cl y avai l abl e si nce 2008,
showed t hat t he Appl i cat i on was f i l ed i n t he names of Al Cohen and
Eve Cohen i ndi vi dual l y and “DBA ACM Recor ds, I nc” and Pl ai nt i f f
i t sel f pr oduced document s est abl i shi ng t hat ACM Recor ds, I nc. was
i ncor por at ed i n 2003. ( Opposi t i on at 5- 6, ci t i ng Decl ar at i on of A.
Er i c. Bj or gumExs A, D. ) Def endant ar gues t hat , because “t he
cor por at i on exi st ed year s bef or e t he t r ademar k appl i cat i on was
f i l ed, ” “t he f act t hat t he appl i cat i on may have been f i l ed i n t he
wr ong name shoul d have j umped out at Pl ai nt i f f . ” ( Opp. at 6. )
Pl ai nt i f f ar gues t hat t he i nf or mat i on avai l abl e t o i t was not
suf f i ci ent t o r eveal a pot ent i al er r or . I t cont ends t hat t her e ar e
var i ous l egi t i mat e r easons why t he Cohens may have chosen t o hol d
owner shi p of t he ACM Recor ds t r ademar k r egi st r at i on i n t hei r own
per sonal names, and t he f act t hat t hey al so own a cor por at e ent i t y,
ACM Recor ds, I nc. , does not necessar y suggest t hat t he t r ademar k
appl i cat i on was f i l ed i n er r or . ( Repl y at 4- 5. ) Pl ai nt i f f cont ends
t hat t he Cohens “coul d have l i censed t he t r ademar k t o t he
cor por at i on; t he cor por at i on coul d have been a hol di ng company of
some sor t ; or t he cor por at i on coul d have been engaged i n a
compl et el y di f f er ent l i ne of busi ness. ” ( Repl y at 5. ) I t asser t s
t hat i t onl y l ear ned of t he al l eged er r oneous asser t i on of
owner shi p dur i ng t he May 11, 2014 deposi t i on of Al an Cohen. ( I d. ;
St ephenson Decl . ¶ 8. )
The cour t f i nds Pl ai nt i f f ’ s posi t i on mor e convi nci ng. Whi l e
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t he nat ur e of owner shi p l i st ed i n t he Appl i cat i on may have been
suf f i ci ent t o gi ve Pl ai nt i f f cause t o expl or e t he i ssue f ur t her i n
di scover y–- somet hi ng i t ul t i mat el y di d t hr ough t he deposi t i on of
Al an Cohen–- t he f act s appar ent l y avai l abl e t o Pl ai nt i f f at t he t i me
of t he December 8, 2013 cut - of f f or t he amendment of pl eadi ngs wer e
not suf f i ci ent t o expect Pl ai nt i f f t o have sought t o amend i t s
pl eadi ng t o add a cancel l at i on cl ai m. Mor eover , t he f act t hat t he
deposi t i on of Mr . Cohen was not hel d unt i l Mar ch 11, 2014 does not
appear t o be t he r esul t of a l ack of di l i gence on t he par t of
Pl ai nt i f f , as i t i s undi sput ed t hat t he del ay r esul t ed at l east i n
par t f r omt he unavai l abi l i t y of Def endant s f or ear l i er dat es and
i ncl ement weat her .
As t o t he t hi r d pr ong, t he cour t f i nds t hat an amendment t o
t he pl eadi ngs shoul d not be bar r ed on t he gr ound t hat Pl ai nt i f f
f ai l ed t o di l i gent l y seek amendment once t he basi s f or t he
amendment became cl ear . The deposi t i on was hel d Mar ch 11, 2014 and
Pl ai nt i f f f i l ed t he i nst ant mot i on on Apr i l 18, 2014. However , at
l east one week of t he del ay i s at t r i but abl e t o an ext ensi on
r equest ed by Def endant s’ counsel t o r evi ew t he deposi t i on
t r anscr i pt s ( whi ch wer e appar ent l y not pr ovi ded t o Pl ai nt i f f i n
t hei r ent i r et y unt i l af t er t he Mot i on was f i l ed) . ( See St ephenson
Decl . ¶¶ 4, 7. ) Mor eover , Pl ai nt i f f does not seek t o r eopen
di scover y. I n t he ci r cumst ances, t he cour t does not consi der t he
del ay i n f i l i ng t he i nst ant mot i on unr easonabl e.
Addi t i onal l y, Def endant s asser t t hat , even i f t he cour t f i nds
t hat Pl ai nt i f f has sat i sf i ed Rul e 16' s “good cause” r equi r ement ,
t he cour t shoul d not al l ow t he amendment because i t woul d be
f ut i l e. ( Opp. at 7. ) The cour t may consi der f ut i l i t y of t he
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pr oposed amendment i n det er mi ni ng whet her t o gr ant l eave t o amend a
pl eadi ng. See Foman v. Davi s, 371 U. S. at 182. I n t hi s case, t he
cour t does not have bef or e i t suf f i ci ent f act s and br i ef i ng t o
concl ude t hat t he pr oposed amendment woul d be f ut i l e. Nei t her par t y
has ci t ed any cases i n suppor t of i t s posi t i on as t o whet her t he
cl ai mi s t i me- bar r ed and bot h par t i es i ncor r ect l y ci t ed t he most
r el evant st at ut or y aut hor i t y, 15. U. S. C. § 1064. ( Opp. at 7; Repl y
at 5. ) The cour t st at es no opi ni on as t o whet her t he cl ai mwoul d
sur vi ve a mot i on t o di smi ss or mot i on f or summar y j udgment .
In light of the above discussion, the court finds that
Plaintiff has shown good cause to amend the Schedul i ng Or der and
wi l l al l ow t he f i l i ng of t he Fi r st Amended Compl ai nt .
Def endant r equest s, i n t he event t hat t he i nst ant mot i on i s
gr ant ed, t hat i t be per mi t t ed t o r eopen di scover y t o seek evi dence
i n suppor t of a pot ent i al l aches def ense. ( Opp at 7- 8. ) The cour t
wi l l al l ow Def endant t o conduct di scover y f or t he l i mi t ed pur pose
of def endi ng t he cancel l at i on cl ai m. Such di scover y shal l concl ude
no l at er t han J une 27, 2014, as set f or t h bel ow. Thi s l i mi t ed
di scover y shal l not i ncl ude a deposi t i on of Pl ai nt i f f ’ s counsel of
r ecor d i n t hi s mat t er , as Def endant has not j ust i f i ed such an
ext r aor di nar y measur e. See Doubl eday v. Ruh, 149 F. R. D. 601, 613
( E. D. Cal . 1993) .
IV. Conclusion
For t he r easons st at ed her ei n, Pl ai nt i f f ’ s Mot i on f or Leave t o
Fi l e an Amended Compl ai nt ( Dkt . No. 44) i s GRANTED. Def endant ’ s
r equest t o r eopen di scover y i s GRANTED f or t he l i mi t ed pur pose of
def endi ng Count I X of t he Fi r st Amended Compl ai nt . Def endant s shal l
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be per mi t t ed t o seek di scover y of f act s and document s suppor t i ng
t he cl ai mand t o conduct one deposi t i on. Such di scover y shal l
concl ude no l at er t han J une 27, 2014.
I T I S SO ORDERED.
Dat ed: J une 10, 2014
DEAN D. PREGERSON
Uni t ed St at es Di st r i ct J udge
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