Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Third Circuit confirms that consumers still lack Lanham Act standing

Knit With v. Knitting Fever, Inc., --- Fed.Appx. ----, 2015 WL 5147749, No. 12–3219 (Sept. 2, 2015)
This long-running, contentious litigation comes to an end (perhaps) with the court of appeals’ affirmance of the district court’s rejection of various claims, including Lanham Act false advertising claims.  At the time, the district court applied Conte Bros. to the standing issue, whereas the court of appeals needed to apply Lexmark.  Nonetheless, the rejection under Conte Bros. was still appropriate because the plaintiff didn’t come within the zone of interests addressed by the Lanham Act.  As Lexmark said:
A consumer who is hoodwinked into purchasing a disappointing product may well have an injury-in-fact cognizable under Article III, but he cannot invoke the protection of the Lanham Act—a conclusion reached by every Circuit to consider the question. Even a business misled by a supplier into purchasing an inferior product is, like consumers generally, not under the Act’s aegis.
Plaintiff, “a yarn retailer who alleges to have been misled by its supplier into purchasing mislabeled yarn, is not within the zone of interests protected by the Lanham Act” and thus lacked Lanham Act standing.

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