United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Applause Production Group, LLC ("Applause" or
"Plaintiff) brings this action against Defendants
Showtime Events Inc. ("Showtime") and Amilcar
Mendez (collectively, "Defendants"), alleging
trademark infringement and false designation of origin in
violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1114(1)
and 1125(a). Now pending before the Court is Plaintiffs
Renewed Motion for Default Judgment, ECF No. 18. No hearing
is necessary. Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the following
reasons, Plaintiffs Renewed Motion for Default Judgment is
granted, in part, and denied, in part.
is an entertainment business that provides services such as
event production, audio/visual services, themed decor and
event management. ECF No. 17 ¶ 8. Applause owns Federal
Trademark Registration No. 3, 756, 459 for the "Showtime
Events" trademark ("the '459 trademark")
and conducts business under that name. Id. at 1
& ¶ 9; see also ECF No.
1-1.The Showtime Events trademark has been in
exclusive and continuous use by Plaintiff since January 1,
1996. ECF No. 17 ¶ 10. Applause currently has offices in
North Carolina, Michigan, Florida and Washington, D.C.
Id. ¶ 8. Applause's customer base includes
clients in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Id. ¶ 13. Since 2000, Applause has bid on at
least 20 projects in the area, most recently in August 2016,
and has performed jobs worth over $100, 000. Id.
Applause has expended substantial money and resources in
advertising and promoting their mark throughout the United
States, resulting in a mark that is "inherently
distinctive" and which has "acquired
distinctiveness among relevant purchasers." Id.
Showtime Events Inc. is a Maryland corporation with its
principal place of business in Hyattsville, Maryland and
Defendant Mendez, a resident of the State of Maryland, is an
officer and managing member of Showtime Events Inc.
Id. ¶ 3. Defendants are also in the
entertainment industry, promoting and selling event
management services in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan
area. Id. ¶ 30; see also ECF Nos. 1-4
& 1-7. Applause alleges that Showtime Events Inc.
forfeited its corporate charter in or around 2012 and, since
that time, Defendant Mendez has been operating the company as
a sole proprietorship. ECF No. 17 ¶ 4.
April 26, 2011, Defendants established a website,
www.showtimeeventsinc.com, to promote their company.
Id. ¶ 19; see also ECF No. 1-2. They
also established and promoted their company using the names
"Showtime Events" or "Showtime Events
Inc." on various social media pages, such as Facebook,
and event planning websites, such as Wedding Wire, the Knot,
and Special Events. ECF No. 17 ¶¶ 19-23; see
also ECF Nos. 1-3, 1-9, 1-10, 17-5. Plaintiff alleges
that Defendants had actual knowledge of its Showtime Events
trademark prior to establishing these websites and listings.
ECF No. 17 ¶ 24.
March 19, 2014, Applause notified Defendants of their
infringing use of the Showtime Events mark and requested that
they cease their use of the mark. Id. ¶ 35.
Defendants allegedly refused and continued their use of the
mark both in their business and on their website.
Id¶ 35. Plaintiff alleges that the Showtime
Events mark, as used by Applause over the past twenty years,
is "incontestable, distinctive and has acquired
secondary meaning." Id. ¶ 28. Plaintiff
further alleges that Defendants' unauthorized use of
their mark is likely to cause confusion among potential
customers by creating the impression that "Applause
itself has offered or endorsed Plaintiffs services."
Id. ¶ 32. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants
have defaulted on their credit accounts, and, as a result,
various credit agencies are contacting Applause, causing
actual confusion tarnishing Applause's image.
Id. ¶ 34. Such confusion has the
"potential to hurt the Showtime Events brand and
business greatly if not addressed." Id.
alleges that this infringement is willful and "designed
to specifically trade and capitalize upon the substantial
goodwill of Applause's trademark, " id.
¶ 35, and that Defendants advertise several event
planning websites on their website, such as Special Events,
that have featured Applause numerous times. Id.
¶ 36. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants' conduct has
caused them harm through lost sales and profits and forced
them to incur the expenses associated with attempting to halt
Defendants' actions. Id. ¶ 39.
16, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant case. Defendants were
served via a private process server on June 10, 2016. ECF
Nos. 7 & 8. Because the Defendants had not filed a
response to the Complaint, Plaintiff filed a Motion for
Default Judgment on September 16, 2016, ECF No. 13, and an
Order of Default was entered by the Clerk of the Court
against Defendants on October 6, 2016. ECF No. 14.
4, 2017, the Court denied Plaintiffs Motion for Default
Judgment but suggested that Plaintiff could file an amended
complaint and a renewed motion. ECF Nos. 15, 16. Plaintiff
filed an Amended Complaint on May 25, 2017, providing
additional facts in support of its trademark infringement
count and removing counts of unfair competition and cyber
squatting, consistent with the Court's Memorandum
Opinion, ECF No. 15. See ECF No. 17. Plaintiff now
renews its Motion for Default Judgment. ECF No. 18.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
defendant's default does not automatically entitle the
plaintiff to entry of a default judgment: rather, that
decision is left to the discretion of the court."
Choice Hotels Intern., Inc. v. Savannah Shakti
Carp., No. DKC-11-0438, 2011 WL 5118328, at *2 (D. Md.
Oct. 25, 2011) (citing Dow v. Jones, 232 F.Supp.2d
491, 494 (D. Md. 2002)). Although "[t]he Fourth Circuit
has a 'strong policy' that 'cases be decided on
their merits, '" id. (citing United
States v. Shaffer Equip. Co.,11 F.3d 450, 453 (4th
Cir.1993)), "default judgment may be appropriate when
the adversary process has been halted because of an
essentially unresponsive party[.]" Id. (citing
S.E.C v. Lawbaugh,359 F.Supp.2d 418, 421 (D. Md.
2005)). "Upon default, the well-pled allegations in a
complaint as to liability are taken as true, although the
allegations as to damages are not." Lawbaugh,
359 F.Supp.2d at 422. When considering a Motion for Default
Judgment, the Court "must [then] determine whether
[those] allegations ... support ...