The opinion of the court was delivered by: Motley, District Judge.
OPINION GRANTING PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT
This case involves claims of trademark infringement involving two types
of laboratory equipment. Defendants have filed a motion for summary
judgment to dismiss the claim regarding one of these two products. For
the reasons outlined below, this court now grants defendants' motion on
the basis of laches.
This case involves allegations of trademark infringement involving
laboratory equipment. The pieces of equipment in question are hand-held
devices used to transfer small amounts of liquid. The two products are
dispenser syringes and pipettes. The pipettes in question are small lumen
glass tubes open on both ends. Dispenser syringes are disposable plastic
tips which fit onto the end of the pipettes. Dispenser syringes serve to
draw in or expel measured amounts of fluid. Only the dispenser syringes
are the subject of defendants' motion for summary judgment.
The plaintiff is Eppendorf-Netheler-HINZ GmbH ("Eppendorf"), a German
company which manufactures medical and laboratory equipment. The
defendants are PZ HTL SA ("HTL"), National Labnet Company, Inc.
("Labnet") and Marsh Biomedical Products, Inc. ("Marsh"). HTL is a Polish
company which manufactures laboratory equipment including dispenser
syringes. HTL was previously owned by Enterton Company Establishment, the
party named in the above case caption. Labnet is a New Jersey corporation
that markets HTL's dispenser syringes in the United States. In some
situations Labnet sells HTL's dispenser syringes through dealers, one of
which is defendent Marsh. Eppendorfs claims against HTL and Labnet
involve only dispenser syringes. Eppendorfs claims against Marsh involve
pipettes and dispenser syringes. As the summary judgment motion involves
only dispenser syringes, granting this motion serves to dismiss the
entire case against HTL and Labnet but only part of the case against
Eppendorf markets dispenser syringes under the trademarked names
"Combitips" and "Eppendorf Combitips". HTL's dispenser syringes are sold
in the United States under the trademarked name "Combi-Syringe".
Eppendorf alleges that defendants' products employ Eppendorf's designs and
infringe on plaintiffs proprietary rights.
Plaintiff brings this action under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1051
et seq., as well as common law unfair competition, and deceptive trade
practices and trademark and trade dress dilution in violation of New York
General Business Law.
STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
This circuit recognizes the value of summary judgment to expedite the
process of litigation. See Quinn v. Syracuse Model Neighborhood Corp.,
613 F.2d 438, 445 (2d Cir. 1980). The mechanism of summary judgment
promotes judicial economy by preventing further litigation on an issue
with an unalterably predetermined outcome. The standard for summary
judgment ensures that issues are efficiently resolved without
compromising the rights of the non-moving party.
Summary judgment may be granted only if the moving
party can show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. The court
must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve all
ambiguities in favor of the non-moving party.
A party may not rely on "mere speculation or conjecture as to the true
nature of the facts to overcome a motion for summary judgment". Knight
v. U.S. Fire Insurance Co., 804 F.2d 9, 11 (2d Cir. 1986).
Nor are judges any longer required to submit a
question to a jury merely because some evidence has
been introduced by the party having the burden of
proof, unless the evidence be of such a character that
it would warrant the jury in finding a verdict in
favor of that party. Formerly it was held that if
there was what is called a scintilla of evidence in
support of a case the judge was bound to leave it to
the jury, but recent decisions of high authority have
established a more reasonable rule, that in every
case, before the evidence is left to the jury, there
is a preliminary question for the judge, not whether
there is literally no ...