United States District Court, D. Idaho
NELSON-RICKS CHEESE COMPANY, INC., an Idaho corporation, Plaintiff,
LAKEVIEW CHEESE COMPANY, LLC, a Nevada limited liability company, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
C. Nye, U.S. District Court Judge
before the Court is Defendant Lakeview Cheese Company
LLC's (“Lakeview”) Motion for Attorney's
Fees Pursuant to Award of Judgment. Dkt. 96. Having reviewed
the record and briefs, the Court finds that the facts and
legal arguments are adequately presented. Accordingly, in the
interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court
finds that the decisional process would not be significantly
aided by oral argument, the Court will decide the Motion
without oral argument. Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R.
7.1(d)(2)(ii). For the reasons set forth below, the Court
finds good cause to GRANT the Motion.
January 31, 2018, Lakeview filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment on Nelson-Ricks Cheese Company, LLC's
(“NRCC”) claims of trademark infringement. On
July 12, 2018, the Court issued a Decision granting
Lakeview's Motion. Dkt. 94. The same day, the Court
entered Judgment in favor of Lakeview. Dkt. 95.
Decision, the Court found that Lakeview's unintentional
use of NRCC's word mark “Nelson-Ricks Creamery
Company” (“the Mark”) located on an
unlinked and inaccessible webpage did not constitute
making this determination, the Court noted that while it was
true that the Mark appeared on Lakeview's webpage (and as
was later discovered, in a picture on a packing sheet) it was
not used in commerce, did not cause any confusion in the
marketplace, and did not result in any damages. Simply put,
NRCC did not meet any of the required elements to establish a
valid trademark claim.
the Court's decision and judgment in favor of Lakeview,
Lakeview moved for its attorney fees in defending this
action. Dkt. 96. NRCC opposes Lakeview's Motion.
Rule of Civil Procedure 54 governs the award of
attorneys' fees and provides as follows:
(A) Claim to Be by Motion. A claim for
attorney's fees and related nontaxable expenses must be
made by motion unless the substantive law requires those fees
to be proved at trial as an element of damages.
(B) Timing and Contents of the Motion. Unless a
statute or a court order provides otherwise, the motion must:
(i) be filed no later than 14 days after the entry of
(ii) specify the judgment and the statute, rule, or other
grounds entitling the movant to the award;
(iii) state the amount sought or provide a fair estimate of
(iv) disclose, if the court so orders, the terms of any
agreement about fees for the services for which the claim is
Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(2). After determining that a basis
exists for a proper award of attorney fees, the Court must
calculate a reasonable fee award. Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, (1983). Generally, the Court
utilizes the “lodestar figure, ” which multiplies
the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation by
a reasonable hourly rate. Id. The Court can then
adjust the lodestar figure if necessary, based upon the
factors set forth in Kerr v. Screen Extras Guild,
Inc., 526 F.2d 67 (9th Cir.1975), that have not been
subsumed in the lodestar calculation. See Camacho v.
Bridgeport Fin., Inc., 523 F.3d 973, 982 (9th Cir.
case, Lakeview asserts that the Court can properly award
attorney's fees under the Lanham Act and Idaho Code
§ 12-121. Although the framework and analysis are
similar under both provisions, the Court will address each in
the Lanham Act, the Court may “in exceptional cases . .
. award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing
party.” 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a).
United States Supreme Court has defined an “exceptional
case” worthy of attorney fees as follows:
[A]n “exceptional” case is simply one that
stands out from others with respect to the substantive
strength of a party's litigating position
(considering both the governing law and the facts of the
case) or the unreasonable manner in which the case was
litigated. District courts may determine whether a case
is “exceptional” in the case-by-case exercise of
their discretion, considering the totality of the
circumstances. As in the comparable context of the Copyright
Act, “‘[t]here is no precise rule or formula for
making these determinations,' but instead equitable
discretion should be exercised ‘in light of the
considerations we have identified.'”
Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health & Fitness,
Inc., 572 U.S. 545, 554, (2014) (internal citations
omitted) (emphasis added).
there can be little doubt that this case stands out with
respect to NRCC's legal position. While it is true that
the Mark appeared on a website connected with Lakeview-a company
that no longer had a right to use the Mark-the history of
what lead to this lawsuit is extremely relevant.
to 2012, Nelson-Ricks Creamery Company
(“Creamery”), a now defunct business entity,
owned facilities in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Rexburg, Idaho.
Creamery also owned certain intellectual property including
both the “Banquet” and “Nelson Ricks
Creamery” brand names of cheese. In 2012, Lakeview
purchased both the Salt Lake City facility and the Banquet
brand from Creamery. The sale included the transfer of
Creamery's www.banquetcheese.com website to Lakeview.
Importantly, the sale also included a limited license
allowing Lakeview to make use of the Nelson ...