Thursday, September 12, 2013

Can You Get Self-Help Relief Through A Default Judgment?

Not if you don't plead it in your complaint.   Sony sued Discount Cameras & Computers Inc. and Mauricio Martinez for trademark infringement and a handful of other causes related to Discount Camera's unauthorized usage of the SONY trademarks.  Defendants did not respond, so Sony sought and received a default.  After the Clerk entered Default, Sony moved for a Default Judgment, seeking an injunction.  So far, so good.  But the proposed judgment included the following language:
ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the Defendants ... shall, within fifteen (15) days of the date of entry of this Default Final Judgment and Permanent Injunction, remove [from their premises] all signage bearing one or more of the SONY Trademarks ...
ORDERED and ADJUDGED that, in the event that the Defendants ... fail to remove from the business premises ... all signage ... then the Court hereby authorizes the Plaintiffs and their representatives ... to enter the property ... and remove all signage...
(emphasis added).  The Court did not approve of this language, relying on Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(c) ("A default judgment must not differ in kind from, or exceed in amount, what is demanded in the pleadings."):
Plaintiffs are therefore entitled to default judgment on all of their claims, as well as a permanent injunction enjoining Defendants from further infringement and unlawful conduct -- but only as to the injunctive relief demanded in the Complaint (Doc. 1).  Plaintiffs are not entitled to self-help should Defendants continue to infringe Plaintiff's marks.  The Court declines to retain jurisdiction over this matter.
Motion for Default Judgment, Granted in Part, Denied in Part.
Sony Corp. v. Discount Cameras & Computers, Inc., Case No. 6:12-cv-1892 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 5, 2013) (J. Dalton) (adopting Report and Recommendation of Mag. Baker).

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