A Kentucky federal court has granted a motion to dismiss an action against the owner of Duck Dynasty trademarks alleging infringement based on jurisdictional issues. Chinook USA v. Duck Commander, Inc., No. 14-1015 (W.D. Ky., Louisville Div., order entered January 8, 2015). In 2014, Duck Commander licensed the rights to several trademarks related to Duck Dynasty, including “Duck Commander Family Foods,” “Uncle Si” and “Si Robertson,” to Chinook for use on several types of beverages. Chinook later learned that Duck Commander also licensed the same rights to other companies, including Go-Time and Checkered Flag Business. Chinook sued, arguing that it held exclusive rights to the use of the trademarks on beverages. In “colorful” filings recounting “Bill Russell’s collegiate basketball career, the Scottish jurist and poet Sir Walter Scott’s Marmion, and Jackie Gleason’s role in an short-lived television series from the late 1940s,” Chinook argued that Duck Commander and the beverage companies tortiously interfered with a contractual relationship and infringed upon Chinook’s rights to the trademarks.
The defendants moved to dismiss and for a change in venue to Louisiana. The court assessed the forum selection clause in the contract, which stated that Louisiana law governed the agreement, and found that the clause was valid. Further, Chinook failed to show that the transfer was unwarranted, the court noted. The company argued that Louisiana citizens would be unable to fairly decide a case in which the defendants were central to the local economy. “In concocting this argument, Chinook imputes Robertson family members’ statements on homosexuality and racism to all of the inhabitants of West Monroe and Monroe, Louisiana,” the court said. “This argument is intellectually dishonest, logically flawed, and needlessly offensive.”