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LeMond v. Stinchfield

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

December 13, 2017

Gregory J. LeMond, Plaintiff,
v.
Frederick Harold Stinchfield, also known as Frederick Harold Stinchfield, II, and Frederick Harold Stinchfield, also known as Frederick Harold Stinchfield, III, Defendants.

          Karl C. Procaccini, Lawrence M. Shapiro, and Matthew D. Forsgren, Greene Espel PLLP, (for Plaintiffs);

          Frederick Harold Stinchfield II, (pro se Defendant) [1]

          Frederick Harold Stinchfield III, (pro se Defendant).[2]

          REPORT & RECOMMENDATION

          TONY N. LEUNG, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on two self-titled motions to dismiss (ECF Nos. 43 and 50) filed individually by pro se Defendants Frederick Harold Stinchfield II (“Stinchfield II”) and Frederick Harold Stinchfield III (“Stinchfield III”). These motions have been referred to the undersigned for a report and recommendation to the district court, the Honorable John R. Tunheim, Chief District Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, under 28 U.S.C. § 636 and D. Minn. LR 72.1. (ECF No. 65.) The parties agreed that the motions would be submitted on the papers without a hearing. (ECF No. 69.)

         II. BACKGROUND[3]

         Plaintiff Gregory J. LeMond (“LeMond”) “is a world famous athlete, three-time winner of the Tour de France, and a successful businessman.” (Compl. ¶ 5, ECF No. 1.) LeMond is the owner of the LEMOND mark. (Compl. ¶ 10.) “LeMond has long been associated with his LEMOND brand and trademark, ” and has used the LEMOND mark “to market various products for many years.” (Compl. ¶ 6.)

         LeMond “was an early adopter and proponent of carbon fiber technology in cycling.” (Compl. ¶ 7.) “In August 2016, LeMond announced that he was launching a new venture focused on developing low-cost carbon fiber technology and producing and selling lost-cost carbon fiber.” (Compl. ¶ 7.) To this end, LeMond founded LeMond Companies, LLC (“LeMond Companies”) and LeMond Composites, LLC (“LeMond Composites”). (Compl. ¶ 7.) LeMond Companies and LeMond Composites use the GRAIL mark in “market[ing] their low-cost carbon fiber products.” (Compl. ¶ 9.) LeMond is the owner of the GRAIL mark. (Compl. ¶ 10.)

         Stinchfields II and III (collectively, “Stinchfields”) are father and son respectively. (Compl. ¶¶ 11-12.) The Stinchfields own and/or control 66 domain names containing LeMond's name or his marks. (Compl. ¶¶ 13-15.) These domain names are registered to “F H Stinchfield II”; list the Stinchfields' shared home address as the address of the registrant; and list Stinchfield III's e-mail address as the e-mail address of the registrant. (Compl. ¶¶ 16-18.) The domain names were registered in September and October 2016, following LeMond's announcement. (Compl. ¶ 19.)

         LeMond alleges that the Stinchfields “have registered, used, and/or trafficked the[se] [d]omain [n]ames with a bad faith intent to profit.” (Compl. ¶ 24; see Compl. ¶¶ 35-42.) By way of example, LeMond discusses the Stinchfields' use of the lemondindustries.com domain name. (See Compl. ¶¶ 24-33.) LeMond alleges that the Stinchfields have used this domain to host a website entitled “LeMond Industries, ” which “contains derogatory information about LeMond and his businesses” and features LeMond's name and likeness along with the LEMOND mark. (Compl. ¶¶ 24-26.) The Stinchfields have also “posted approximately 25 blog posts” to the LeMond Industries website. (Compl. ¶ 27.) The website also features third-party advertisements, which, upon information and belief, generate revenue for the Stinchfields. (Compl. ¶¶ 28-29.) On or about June 2017, the Stinchfields advertised “LeMond-Related Domains for Sale!” on the LeMond Industries website and, at one point, posted “that they hoped that ‘someone from the LeMond Composites team would reach out.'” (Compl. ¶¶ 30-32; see Compl. ¶ 33.) The Stinchfields also claimed “that ‘[t]he amount of traffic driven by the . . . [advertised domain names] runs in the 1000s per day with no original content.” (Compl. ¶ 32.) LeMond brings the instant action under provisions of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1125(d), 8131, seeking damages, forfeiture of the domain names, an injunction, and attorney fees and costs.

         Subsequent to the filing of this action, the district court granted LeMond's request for a preliminary injunction. LeMond v. Stinchfield, No. 17-cv-2071 (JRT/TNL), 2017 WL 3491837 (D. Minn. Aug. 14, 2017). With respect to the domain names at issue and any other domain names in the Stinchfields' possession, custody, or control that are identical or confusingly similar to LeMond's name or the LEMOND or GRAIL marks, the district court ordered the Stinchfields to remove all content from and cease using the domain names, enjoined the Stinchfields from selling or transferring the domain names to anyone other than LeMond, and directed the Stinchfields to transfer immediately the domain names to LeMond. Id. at *8. The Stinchfields were also enjoined from registering any additional domain names that are identical or confusingly similar to LeMond's name or the LEMOND or GRAIL marks. Id.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. The Stinchfields' Motions ...


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