Monday, August 21, 2006

TTABlog Mid-August Leo Stoller Update: Hot Times in Leo-Land

I was in Chicago for part of my vacation this month, but I won't bore you with all my vacation photos. I did, however, have an opportunity to drive out to the leafy suburb of Oak Park, where I took a picture of Leo Stoller's Rentamark headquarters. At least this is the building at the address he used in his many TTAB extension requests.

7115 W. North Avenue, #272
Oak Park, Illinois 60302
(Click on photo for larger picture)

It was hot in Chicago, but one church marquee put it all in perspective: "If you think this is hot, try Hell!" Things have been heating up for Leo Stoller, too, as discussed below.

CAFC Appeal from TTAB Sanction Order: Stoller's appeal from the PTO's July 14th Sanction Order (TTABlogged here) is still in limbo, while the court considers the issue of jurisdiction. On July 26th, the PTO turned down Stoller's request that it "suspend the imposition of any sanctions" pending a decision on his appeal to the CAFC. (PTO Order here). On that same day, the CAFC issued its Order raising the question of jurisdiction. See TTABlog posting here.

On August 2, the Director of the PTO requested that the CAFC revise its July 26th Order (motion here) to require Stoller to "go first" in explaining why the court has jurisdiction. On August 8th the CAFC declined to do so (Order here). However, the CAFC did extend the time for the PTO's response to August 23, 2006. Stoller's reply will be due ten days later.

In Stoller's "Response" to the PTO's motion for revision, he contends that he was improperly sanctioned for "filing an 'excessive amount' of extensions to oppose," even though there is no limit in the Rules as to the number of extension requests that may be filed. Therefore, he asserts, the Board's Sanction Order is "arbitrary and unconstitutional," and violates his rights to due process and equal protection.

"The standard for filing an extension to oppose is to investigate facts prior to filing a notice of opposition. Leo Stoller holds common law rights and/or has a federal trademark registration which is, in the opinion of Leo Stoller, likely to be confused with each and every mark that Leo Stoller filed an extension to oppose. Leo Stoller has met this standard." [TTABlog query: where in the record is the proof supporting Stoller's assertions regarding trademark ownership?].

Stoller claims that the sanctions "will lead to the total destruction of Leo Stoller's 34 year old trademark licensing business."

Last week, Stoller filed two Notices of Appeal (here and here), directed to 26 opposition proceedings dismissed by the Board pursuant to its July 14 Sanction Order. He seeks to consolidate those appeals with his own pending CAFC appeal (Appeal No. 2006-1534). [TTABlog query: At the CAFC, a corporate entity must be represented by counsel. Since Stoller is not an attorney, how can he represent his various corporate entities in their appeals from the TTAB dismissals?].

Everett McKinley Dirksen Federal Courthouse
(Click on photo for larger picture)

Central Mfg. Co. v. Pure Fishing: You may recall that last November, the federal court in Chicago entered a default judgment on Pure Fishing's counterclaims in the Central Mfg. Co. v. Pure Fishing lawsuit. (TTABlogged here). That action was stayed when Stoller filed for bankruptcy in December 2005. [Pertinent documents may be found here]. However, on August 14th, the bankruptcy judge issued an Order modifying and vacating the stay so that Pure Fishing may "liquidate to judgment any claims against the Debtor and take all actions in connection therewith." Pure Fishing's counterclaims may be found here.

Google v. Stoller: On August 18th, Google Inc. turned up the heat on Mr. Stoller by filing a motion (here) with the Chicago bankruptcy court, seeking clearance to commence its own lawsuit against Stoller and his variously-named companies. The motion papers include a proposed 25-page Complaint (here) that sets forth claims for violation of the RICO Act (18 U.S.C. Sections 1962(c) and 1964(c)), the Lanham Act (Section 43(a)), and the law of unfair competition, all arising out of defendants' "scheme of falsely claiming trademark rights for the purpose of harassing and attempting to extort money out of legitimate commercial actors."

Chicago's Leo High School
(No, not that Leo. Pope Leo I.)
(Click on photo for larger picture)

Text and photographs Copyright John L. Welch 2006.


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