Secalt S.A., et al. v. Wuxi Shenxi Construction Machinery Co., Ltd., No. 10-17007 (9th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Tractel, manufacturer and seller of the Tirak traction hoist, brought suit claiming that Jiangsu's hoists infringed the trade dress of the Tractel traction hoist. At issue was whether the Tractel traction hoist qualified for trade dress protection. The court agreed with the district court that Tractel did not meet its burden of establishing non-functionality and affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Jiangsu. The court affirmed the district court's award of attorney's fees to Jiangsu upon finding that this was an "exceptional" case meriting fees where Tractel's continued prosecution of its claims was held by the district court to be "unreasonable." While the line delineating "exceptional" cases under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a)(3), could be murky, this action fell squarely within the realm of exceptional cases contemplated by the Act. Finally, the court reversed the district court's award of non-taxable costs and certain taxable costs and remanded for further proceedings.