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V.V.V. & Sons Edible Oils Ltd. v. Meenakshi Overseas, LLC

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

December 27, 2019

V.V.V. & SONS EDIBLE OILS LIMITED, a Public Limited Company, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
MEENAKSHI OVERSEAS, LLC, a New Jersey Limited Liability Company, Defendant-Appellee

          Argued and Submitted December 4, 2019 San Francisco, California

          Appeal from the United States District Court No. 2:14-cv-02961-TLN-CKD for the Eastern District of California Troy L. Nunley, District Judge, Presiding

          Kenneth C. Brooks (argued), Law Office of Kenneth C. Brooks, Rocklin, California, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          John M. Rannells (argued), Jason Lee DeFrancesco, and Pei-Lun Chang, Baker & Rannells PA, Somerville, New Jersey, for Defendant-Appellee.

          Before: Eugene E. Siler, [*] Jay S. Bybee, and Ryan D. Nelson, Circuit Judges.

         SUMMARY[**]

         Trademark / Claim Preclusion

         The panel affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's dismissal of an action seeking damages and injunctive relief for unfair competition, trademark dilution, and trademark infringement as to three marks registered for use with sesame seed oil.

         Plaintiff had petitioned for cancellation of the marks before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ("TTAB"). TTAB dismissed the petition as to the first mark based on claim preclusion and allowed claims against the other two marks to proceed. The district court dismissed plaintiffs' claims as to the first mark based on claim preclusion and granted defendant's unopposed motion to dismiss the remaining claims.

         Reversing as to the first mark, the panel held that an exception to claim preclusion applied because an interparty proceeding before the TTAB is a limited proceeding involving registration of a trademark, and TTAB had no power to decide plaintiff's claims of infringement, dilution, and unfair competition or to grant either injunctive relief or damages. The panel left it to the district court to consider, in the first instance, whether issue preclusion applied. The panel also reversed the district court's denial of leave to amend the complaint to add a fraud claim as to the first mark.

         Affirming the dismissal of plaintiff's claims as to the second and third marks, the panel held that plaintiff's non-opposition to defendant's motion to dismiss waived any challenge to the dismissal.

          OPINION

          R. NELSON, Circuit Judge

         Plaintiff V.V.V. & Sons Edible Oils ("VVV") appeals the dismissal of its trademark claims based on three marks and the denial of leave to amend its Complaint. Because we disagree that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ("TTAB") judgment should be given claim preclusive effect, we reverse the district court's dismissal of VVV's claims as to the first mark, as well as the denial of leave to amend. ...


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