CHICAGO -- The Cult Awareness Network Inc. (CAN) is entitled to recover attorneys' fees from two members of the Church of Scientology who sent out unauthorized mailings using the CAN trademark in which they purported to be a CAN affiliate, a federal judge here ruled Dec. 7 (Cult Awareness Network Inc. v.
Samuel Demeter, et al., No. 92 C 5482, N.D. Ill.).
U.S. Judge James B. Moran of the Northern District of Illinois held that the infringement by Valon Cross and Samuel Demeter of the CAN trademark was both deliberate and intentional, making the case exceptional and entitling CAN to recover fees.
Demeter, a member of the Church of Scientology, joined CAN then, used the CAN trademark to send out a letter purporting to come from a CAN affiliate in Portland, Ore. In a second letter sent to CAN, he posed as a CAN affiliate seeking information.
Cross, after being warned not to, sent out an extensive mailing using the CAN trademark, purporting to be acting on behalf of a San Francisco affiliate.
CAN filed suit in August 1992, alleging trademark infringement.
Demeter and Cross unsuccessfully raised personal jurisdiction defenses, agreed to the entry of a preliminary injunction, then filed an answer and counterclaim to the CAN suit. CAN moved for dismissal of the counterclaim; Demeter and Cross subsequently withdrew the counterclaim and stipulated to liability. No damages were awarded.
CAN then moved for attorneys' fees and costs, contending that Demeter's infringement was an intentional part of a pattern of efforts by the Church of Scientology to undermine CAN by having members form unauthorized affiliates. Demeter and Cross responded that their conduct was the result of bad judgment, that the infringement did not cause injury and that the infringement ceased when the preliminary injunction was entered.
"We need not consider all the contentions because we are persuaded that the case is exceptional since the infringements were deliberate and intentional," Judge Moran said. "Defendants knew that they had not been authorized to act as affiliates . .
. . The infringements were not arguable; defendants used mockups.
Defendants did cease the use almost immediately, when the legal fees were modest. They should have thrown in the towel then, or at least after the jurisdiction issue was determined adversely to them. It is unfortunate that the subsequent increase in legal expense, while due in part to defending against the counterclaim and to positioning the case for final resolution, was in part due to the effort to collect fees. We do not, however, fault the plaintiff for believing that it was the loser if it was not the winner on the fees issue, given its experience in other cases."
The judge found the plaintiff's request for 188.8 hours of fees at $150 per hour to be reasonable, entering judgment for $28,985.45.
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