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SLY Magazine, LLC v. Weider Publications L.L.C.

April 9, 2007

SLY MAGAZINE, LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WEIDER PUBLICATIONS L.L.C. AND AMERICAN MEDIA, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Conway Casey, United States District Judge*fn1

OPINION & ORDER

This case involves the ownership and use of the "SLY" trademark in the sale of magazine publications. The Court has previously ruled on discovery issues and has denied an application for preliminary injunction by Plaintiff Sly Magazine, LLC ("Plaintiff"). Now before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend the complaint and to join new parties pursuant to Rule 15(a) and Rules 20(a) and 21, respectively, of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, a New York limited liability company, purchased the domain name "www.slymagazine.com" on June 30, 2003, and launched an "online magazine" it calls "SLY" at that web address on November 1, 2004. (See Compl. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff describes its SLY publication as a "fashion/lifestyle" magazine; the website is titled "Sly . . . shoes, the obsession" in italicized script. At the time Plaintiff filed the instant motion, it had yet to publish a print version of SLY.

(Def.'s Opp. Mot. Amend at 1.)

Defendants Weider Publications LLC and American Media (collectively "Defendants") are publishers of numerous print magazines, some of which report news about the lives of film and television celebrities. (See Def.'s Mem. Opp. Prelim. Inj. at 3-4.) In September 2004, Defendants began promoting their SLY magazine, a print publication named after the actor Sylvester Stallone and purportedly aimed at a particular demographic: men over age 40 with an interest in physical fitness and an active lifestyle. (Id.) Defendants published four issues of SLY magazine during the calendar year 2005. Defendants' fourth and final issue of SLY magazine had an on-sale date of December 26, 2005 and hit newsstands as early as December 20, 2005. (Def.'s Opp. Mot. Amend at 10; Kohlmann Decl. ¶ 8.) The final issue was scheduled to remain on sale until at least March 26, 2006. (Id. at 11.)

At the beginning of 2005, however, before Defendants' published the first issue of their print magazine, Plaintiff sent a letter notifying Defendants of its purported right to the "SLY trademark" and asking Defendants to cease and desist any use of the mark. (Compl. Ex. 3.) Defendants proceeded with publication despite this request. Plaintiff then filed this action in April 2005 alleging claims for trade dress infringement, trademark dilution, and trademark infringement under § 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125, and New York trademark law, see N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 360 (McKinney 2006).

In July 2005, the parties agreed to a discovery schedule whereby amended pleadings were to be filed and joinder of additional parties was to be accomplished by August 15, 2005. (See Case Mgmt. Plan, Docket Entry #8.) In addition, the schedule demarcated July 29, 2005 as the last date for the parties to serve interrogatories. (Id.) The parties agreed that all discovery was to be completed by December 21, 2005. (Id.) On November 7, 2005, however, the parties stipulated to an extension of discovery until January 24, 2006 for the limited purposes of obtaining and exchanging expert reports, conducting depositions, and serving requests for admissions. (See Scheduling Order, Docket Entry #11.)

On December 13, 2005, one week before the end of the initial discovery deadline and five weeks preceding the end of the extended deadline, Plaintiff issued a second set of interrogatories requesting that Defendants, among other things, "identify the wholesalers, distributors and/or sales companies involved in the sale or distribution of defendants [sic] 'SLY magazine.'" (Reply Decl. ¶ 3.) Defendants assert that Plaintiff had been on notice of "the existence and identities of the majority of these companies since as early as August 2005, when Defendants responded to Plaintiff's first discovery requests." (Def.'s Opp. Mot. Amend at 6.) Nonetheless, Defendants provided a response to the second set of interrogatories on January 19, 2006, identifying only "Curtis Circulation Company" ("Curtis") as a wholesaler, distributor, or sales company. (Reply Decl. ¶ 3.) Plaintiff issued a third-party subpoena for Curtis requesting, among other things, its distribution list for Defendants' SLY magazine. (Docket Entry #36.)

Meanwhile, on January 17, 2006, the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO") issued Plaintiff's registration for the trademark "SLY." (Bostany Decl. ¶ 2.) Defendants' final issue of SLY magazine was already on sale through retailers at this time and, as noted above, remained on sale until at least March 26, 2006.

Discovery in this case came to a close when Curtis produced the list of third party distributors and retailers to Plaintiff in early February 2006. (Bostany Decl. ¶ 6.) On March 3, 2006, Plaintiff filed the instant motion.

II. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff, whose current complaint alleges violations under § 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a), seeks leave to amend its complaint to add a new claim against Defendants pursuant to § 32(1) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1), based on its acquisition of the registered trademark, and to join as defendants some of the companies identified through Curtis.*fn2 (See Reply Decl. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff claims that the distribution and retail companies it seeks to join as additional defendants are liable under the same provisions of the Lanham Act-§§ 43(a) and 32(1). Defendants oppose leave to amend on grounds that Plaintiff's ...


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