Springboards to Education, Inc. sued the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, alleging copyright infringement for the district’s use of “millionaire”-themed reading incentive programs. Springboards alleged that the district’s programs allegedly bore the marks and branding identical to or confusingly similar to Springboards’ marks. The trial court disagreed and entered judgment in the district’s favor. Springboards appealed but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of the suit.
The Lanham Act imposes civil liability on any person who without consent uses “in commerce any reproduction, counterfeit, copy, or colorable imitation of a registered mark in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution, or advertising of any goods or services on or in connection with which such use is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive.”
According to the appeals court, the district’s use of its millionaire-themed program was not confusing, and the school district was not in the business of competing with Springboards by selling its own millionaire-themed products.
There was no evidence that the district misappropriated Springboards’ intellectual property. Moreover, “no reasonable jury could find a likelihood that consumers of Springboards’ niche products would be confused by PSJA’s implementation of a reading program using words and phrases bearing abstract similarity to Springboards’ marks.” The copyright infringement suit against the district was properly dismissed. The case is Springboards to Education, Inc. v. Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, Dkt. No. 21-40336 (May 10, 2022).
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