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Seawright v. M. Shanken Commc'ns, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 26, 2014



JAMES K. BREDAR, District Judge.

Roger Seawright ("Plaintiff") brought this suit against M. Shanken Communications, Inc. ("Defendant") pursuant to the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. ยง 1052(e)(1), seeking a declaratory judgment that M. Shanken's trademark is invalid as a generic name. Mr. Seawright also alleges defamation of character, and seeks damages of $250, 000. Now pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion (ECF No. 9) for the Court to reconsider the order granting Defendant's motion to dismiss (ECF No. 8). The issues have been briefed (ECF Nos. 9, 11, 12), and no hearing is required, Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion to reconsider will be DENIED.


Plaintiff is an Internet consultant who purchases what he describes as "generic term domain names." (ECF No. 1 at 4.) Plaintiff typically has no intent to use the domain name himself. ( Id. ) Instead, he advertises and attempts to sell these domain names to businesses. ( Id. )

Defendant is a corporation that has published Cigar Aficionado magazine since 1992. (ECF No. 4 at 6.) Defendant owns four registered trademarks for the Cigar Aficionado brand, two registered in 1992 and two in 1997. The trademark Registration Numbers are: 2025421, 3614669, 2131128, 2054780. ( Id. at 2-3.) Defendant also operates (ECF No. 1 at 4.)

Plaintiff purchased the domain name on January 8, 2014. (ECF No. 1 at 4.) On January 9, Plaintiff advertised his intent to sell the domain name, noting that Defendant had failed to "do their due diligence" by not purchasing domain name. ( Id. at 4-5; ECF No. 4 at 8.) On February 27, Defendant sent a demand letter to Plaintiff, requesting that Plaintiff: (1) stop using the domain name; (2) cancel his registration of the domain name; and (3) transfer any ownership of the domain name to Defendant. (ECF No. 1 at 5.)

Defendant filed an arbitration complaint with the National Arbitration Forum on April 2, 2014, as required by the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy ("UDRP").[2] ( Id. at 6; ECF. No. 4 at 5.) On April 14, the arbitrator ruled in favor of Defendant, and ordered that the domain name be transferred to Defendant. (ECF No. 1 at 6.) Plaintiff then filed this complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that Defendant's mark is invalid, and seeking damages for defamation of character. ( Id. at 7.)

On May 29, 2014, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. (ECF No. 4.) The Court did not receive a timely Response from Plaintiff, and after carefully considering the issues presented, granted Defendant's motion to dismiss on July 3, 2014. (ECF No. 8.) In doing so, the Court adopted the reasons stated in Defendant's brief and directed the Clerk to close this case. ( Id. )

Plaintiff filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's order on July 7, 2014. (ECF No. 9.) In a note attached to his motion (ECF No. 10), Plaintiff alleges that he submitted his Response to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss before the deadline.[3] He has since filed a shipment receipt as evidence of his timely filing. ( Id. )


A. Motion for Reconsideration

The power to reconsider an order is "committed to the discretion of the district court." Am. Canoe Ass'n, Inc. v. Murphy Farms, Inc., 326 F.3d 505, 515 (4th Cir. 2003). In exercising this discretion, courts must be sensitive to "concerns of finality and judicial economy." Id. However, "[t]he ultimate responsibility of the federal courts, at all levels, is to reach the correct judgment under law." Id.

B. Motion to Dismiss

A motion to dismiss under FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6) is a test of the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). To pass this test, a complaint must contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Facial plausibility exists "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. An inference of a mere possibility of misconduct is not sufficient to support a plausible claim. Id. at 679. As the Twombly opinion stated, "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." 550 U.S. at 555. "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'... Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s]' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Iqbal, ...

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