Omaha Steaks Int’l, Inc. v. Frontier Choice Steaks, LLC, No. C 13–4095–MWB, 2013 WL 6491475 (N.D. Iowa Dec. 10, 2013).
An Iowa district court issued a preliminary injunction against the defendants’ use of “Omaha Beef” to sell frozen meat in a trademark infringement action initiated by Omaha Steaks International Inc.
The plaintiff owns several federal trademark registrations, including OMAHA STEAKS. Under these marks, the plaintiff manufactures and sells premium frozen meat nationally and overseas. The defendants, Frontier Choice Steaks, LLC, d/b/a Omaha Beef Supplying Frontier Steaks, and its two managing members, sells frozen meat mainly in Mississippi.
In the plaintiff’s brief in support of its motion for a preliminary injunction, the plaintiff argued that the name “Omaha Beef” was confusingly similar to the OMAHA STEAKS mark and likely to cause confusion among consumers. In opposition to the plaintiff’s motion, the defendant managing members of Frontier Choice appeared pro se and argued that they had already ceased business, that they were too small to have an impact on the plaintiff’s business, and that issuance of the injunction would prevent a small business from competing with a large company.
The judge disagreed with the defendants and held that all four factors used in the Eighth Circuit to analyze whether to grant a preliminary injunction were satisfied: (1) the plaintiffs demonstrated irreparable harm through the declarations and affidavits submitted which evidenced actual confusion, (2) the same evidence established a likelihood of success on the merits of the trademark infringement claim, (3) because the defendants had already ceased operations, they could not argue that the harm to them if an injunction were granted outweighs the harm to the plaintiff’s trademark rights if an injunction were not granted, and (4) the public interest was served by protecting consumers from confusion caused by trademark infringement.
In response to some of the defendants’ arguments against the preliminary injunction, the court stated that a preliminary injunction was still appropriate in this case even though the defendants had ceased business, because they could recommence wrongful conduct. Additionally, the court explained that the preliminary injunction would not prevent the defendants from competing with the plaintiff; it only enjoined them from engaging in infringing activity.
The court ordered the defendants to cease usage of the name “Omaha Beef” pending resolution of the case, leaving the small seller of red meat seeing red.