Rex Real Est I v. Rex Real Est
Opinion Date: September 6, 2023
Judge: James E. Graves, Jr.
Areas of Law: Intellectual Property, Trademark
Plaintiff Rex Real Estate I, L.P. sued Defendant Rex Real Estate Exchange for trademark infringement. The district court granted Defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law after Plaintiff rested its case. Plaintiff appealed the judgment against its federal infringement claims under the Lanham Act.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The court held that a reasonable jury could not find in favor of Plaintiff’s Section 32(1) claim, but it could find in favor of Plaintiff’s Section 43(a) claim. The court explained that while there was strong evidence that the marks are perceived by the public as primarily a personal name, the record does not compel that conclusion. Thus, the district court erred by deciding as a matter of law that Plaintiff’s marks are not inherently distinctive.
Moreover, the court explained that Plaintiff also asserts that the numerous calls it received from confused consumers who heard Defendant’s advertisements show that the marks have strong standing in the marketplace because it could mean that the callers assumed that Plaintiff was the sole source of the advertising. This is a plausible inference for a jury to make. The court held that taken together and in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, a reasonable jury could find that this factor weighs in favor of Plaintiff.
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