Chicago Jury Awards BGR Client Playboy $7 Million
October 21st, 2016
A Cook County, Illinois jury unanimously found in favor of Browne George Ross LLP client Playboy on all claims, awarding Playboy $7 million. The verdict ends a four-year legal battle initiated by Play Beverages, LLC and CirTran Beverage Company, LLC against Playboy. Years ago, Play Beverages had obtained from Playboy a license to use the world famous Playboy trademarks on an energy drink. In the lawsuit, Play Beverages and CirTran alleged that Playboy had unlawfully terminated the license and wrongfully interfered with their distribution of the energy drinks. The companies sought damages of $29 million. Playboy counterclaimed, asserting that the termination was proper and seeking damages against Play Beverages and CirTran for trademark infringement, counterfeiting, and breach of contract.
Following a three-week trial in Chicago, a jury sided entirely with Playboy, finding it had done nothing wrong, and the license had been properly terminated. The jury also found that Play Beverages had breached the license agreement and both Play Beverages and CirTran had willfully infringed upon and counterfeited Playboy’s trademarks. The jury awarded Playboy $7 million in damages.
Following the verdict, Pete Ross, lead trial counsel for Playboy, remarked, “We are grateful for the swift and unanimous verdict. The jury was very discerning. It recognized that Playboy conducted itself ethically and was in fact the victim of unscrupulous trademark counterfeiters.”
Playboy intends to ask the court to treble the damage award and add attorney’s fees and costs, as well. Playboy will also move for a permanent injunction to bar further counterfeiting. As Playboy said in a statement following the verdict: “The jury verdict makes clear that no one other than Playboy has legitimate rights to use the Playboy brand with energy drink products.”