Monday, January 6, 2014

Packman v. Chicago Tribune Co. case brief

Packman v. Chicago Tribune Co. case brief summary
267 F.3d 628 (2001)

Plaintiff, owner of federal and state trademarks, appealed the grant of summary judgment for defendants, a newspaper and the printer of memorabilia, by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, for the claims brought under the Lanham Act for trademark infringement and unfair competition.

Plaintiff used the trademarked phrase "the joy of six" for use in relation to football and basketball games. The newspaper began using the phrase to describe an anticipated Chicago Bulls sixth National Basketball Association championship. Plaintiff did not object to the use of the trademarked phrase, and sent a letter encouraging the use of the phrase. After the championship, the newspaper printed the phrase in a banner headline and contracted with the printer to produce memorabilia including the headline.


  • The district court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment because they employed the phrase in a non-trademark use in good faith to describe a characteristic of the product, therefore the fair use defense protected them from liability for trademark infringement or unfair competition. 
  • Plaintiff failed to prove that consumers were likely to be confused about the source of the goods based on a few contacts with friends about the "deal" with the newspaper. 
  • The appellate court affirmed because plaintiff failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact as to the elements of the fair use defense and the likelihood of confusion.

The grant of summary judgment was affirmed.

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