I understand getting hot under the collar while defending meritless trademark claims, but this is a bit much:
Trademark infringement trials are not usually emotional affairs. But Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan partner Michael Carlinsky told us there were some poignant moments for him during a two-week bench trial this past winter when he defended the real estate developer Caruso Affiliates against trademark infringement claims by Americana Manhasset, a Long Island shopping center. Those moments came during video depositions when he could hear the voice of his partner Jeffrey Conciatori. Before Carlinksy stepped in to try the case, Conciatori was Caruso’s lead counsel. But last July, on the day the trial was originally scheduled to begin, Conciatori suffered a stroke and collapsed in Brooklyn [sic – it’s actually Central Islip, New York — RDC] federal district court.
The Quinn Emanuel team went on to win the case, the lede-burying article on Law.com says. Oh, and dig through the piece aggressively enough and you’ll learn that, uh, yeah, human being Jeffrey Conciatori is currently recovering.
And what exactly was this lawyer-felling claim, by the way?
The Americana Manhasset, a very pricey outdoor mall, had challenged Caruso’s use of “Americana” at its Glendale, Calif[ornia], residential and shopping area, The Americana at Brand. Americana Manhasset asserted seven claims against Caruso, including trademark infringement, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment. Brooklyn [sic] federal district court judge Leonard Wexler didn’t find sufficient evidence of consumer confusion between the two marks [and ruled that Caruso is entitled to judgment on all of Americana Manhasset’s claims. He also granted one of Caruso’s counterclaims, canceling an Americana Manhasset trademark [registration].*
Not surprising. Not that I know a thing about the case, but unlike some federal judges in this town, Judge Wexler is, if not a trademark infringement skeptic (see here and here), not exactly a Big IP — or, as it turns out, big retail — pushover. And not that the defendant here was a Mom and Pop operation — they had no fewer than four Quinn Emanuel lawyers working this two-week trial.
Okay, I have to ask: This victory was more cost effective than changing the name of the darn shopping mall? Obviously there was an immense amount of pretrial work; the case is over two and half years old and, according to PACER, weighed in at 205 docket entries by the time its number was retired this week. Motion to dismiss, motion for sanctions, motion for discovery, motion to strike, motion for sanctions — a guy could get motion sickness just reading the docket sheet! Then four premium-priced lawyers over two weeks, and plaintiff’s counsel has promised an appeal… All this to fight over trademark rights, not in Barbie or something where money is no object (being a “property” with a huge intellectual property equity component) but over AMERICANA — one pretty uninspiring name for… a mall!
Well, that’s why some of us make the big bucks, I guess: Some clients just seem to want to give it to them. Why those guys end up pulling Judge Wexler while I merit decidedly different luck in that charming courthouse — well, that’s an even more cosmic question.
In any event, LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION® wishes a full recovery to Jeff Conciatori.
*If you choose to read the original real-journalism Law.com article at the link, you’ll find the sentences set off here, but not in this order. Besides burying the lede, juggling the chronology, downplaying what appears from the docket to be the very significant role at trial of Quinn Emanuel’s Deborah Brown, using an abbreviation for “California” in narrative text and, contrary to fact, transferring both Judge Wexler and Conciatori’s stroke to Brooklyn (it says Central Islip right on the opinion and on every other piece of paper with an address on it I could find on PACER) I couldn’t make any use of the words in the order this article put them in.