India-American Cultural Association, Inc. v. iLink Professionals, Inc.Annotate this Case
This dispute centered on the use of the service marks, “Miss India Georgia” and “Miss Teen India Georgia,” (collectively “Marks”). The Marks were used in connection with beauty pageants, initially hosted in 1987 by India-American Cultural Associaiton, Inc. (IACA, a nonprofit organization). IACA conducted the pageants under the Marks from 1987 through 2010. In 2011, facing budgetary restrictions, IACA decided not to hold the “Miss India Georgia” and “Miss Teen India Georgia” pageants. In 2012, iLink, a promoter of beauty pageants and whose president had been involved in the “Miss India Georgia” and “Miss Teen India Georgia” pageants in the past, promoted and hosted both pageants, and IACA appeared in the pageants’ program as a sponsor. After iLink announced its intention to host the 2013 pageants, and its scheduled date of July 20, 2013, IACA announced that it would hold the “Miss India-Georgia” and “Miss Teen India-Georgia” pageants the week before, on July 13, 2013. Both parties promoted their events and sought sponsorships. On April 12, 2013, iLink filed the mark “Miss India Georgia,” and then on April 16, 2013, the mark, “Miss Teen India Georgia” with the Office of the Secretary of State of Georgia. iLink also acquired an internet domain name and used that website to advertise its pageant business. iLink sent IACA a letter dated May 20, 2013, demanding that IACA cease use of “Miss India Georgia” and “Miss Teen India Georgia.” On May 31, 2013, IACA sent iLink a letter demanding that it cease its use of the Marks. Neither party acceded. IACA ultimately lost its bid for the Marks, and argued on appeal to the Supreme Court: (1) that the superior court abused its discretion in granting an interlocutory injunction against it because it treated the state trademark registrations as mandatory for establishing protectable trademark rights rather than as permissive; (2) that IACA owned prior rights in the Marks by virtue of decades of use; (3) and that because of its status as “senior user” of the Marks, in order to issue the interlocutory injunction, the superior court must have wrongfully found that IACA either abandoned its rights in the Marks or assigned them to iLink. The Supreme Court found IACA’s arguments unavailing and affirmed the district court's judgment.