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Motorola, Inc. v. Abeckaser

March 25, 2009

MOTOROLA, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
GAD ABECKASER A/K/A GADI ABECKASER, GADI'S CELL, INC. D/B/A GADICELL, INC., AND GADICELL, GADIS INC., MOBILE CELLULAR, INC., AND VARIOUS JOHN DOES, JANE DOES AND ABC COMPANIES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sifton, Senior Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Motorola, Inc. brings this trademark action against defendants Gad Abeckaser a/k/a Gadi Abeckaser ("Abeckaser"); Gadi's Cell, Inc. d/b/a Gadicell, Inc. and Gadicell; Gadis Inc.; Mobile Cellular, Inc.; and various John Does, Jane Does and ABC Companies. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendants engaged in: (1) infringement of plaintiff's registered trademarks in violation of Section 32 of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1114 (Count I); (2) false designation of origin in violation of Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a) (Count II); and (3) unfair competition under New York State common law (Count III). Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment on Counts I and II pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as well as for injunctive relief, damages, attorney's fees, and costs, is currently pending before this Court. Presently before me is defendants' motion for an order staying all further proceedings in this civil case pending the conclusion of a parallel criminal case.*fn1 For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

Familiarity with the factual background of this matter is presumed based on the record of proceedings before the undersigned. What follows is a brief description of the criminal proceeding related to this civil matter.

On or about August 12, 2008, defendant Abeckaser was indicted before the Queens County Supreme Court on charges of trademark counterfeiting. Heller Decl. ¶ 34; see id. Ex. 7 (copy of indictment). Counsel for defendants states that defendant Abeckaser was subsequently arrested and arraigned and that the criminal proceedings against him (the "Criminal Case") are ongoing. Id. ¶¶ 34-35. On December 11, 2008, unspecified motions were filed in the Criminal Case, and a decision on those motions is expected at the next court date, currently scheduled for March 24, 2009. Id. ¶ 35.

DISCUSSION

I. Defendants' Motion for a Stay of Civil Proceedings

A. Standard for Motion to Stay

Federal courts have discretionary authority to stay all or part of a civil proceeding pending the completion of parallel criminal prosecutions if the interests of justice so require. U.S. v. Kordel, 397 U.S. 1, 12 n.27 (1970); Kashi v. Gratsos, 790 F.2d 1050, 1057 (2d Cir. 1986) (citing SEC v. Dresser Indus., 628 F.2d 1368, 1375 (D.C. Cir.) (en banc), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 993 (1980)) (holding that although "the Constitution . . . does not ordinarily require a stay of civil proceedings pending the outcome of criminal proceedings . . . a court may decide in its discretion to stay civil proceedings"). A stay of the civil case, however, is an extraordinary remedy. Trustees of Plumbers and Pipefitters Nat. Pension Fund v. Transworld Mechanical, Inc., 886 F.Supp. 1134, 1139 (S.D.N.Y. 1995).

In determining whether to enter a stay, courts consider a number of factors, including:

(1) the extent to which the issues in the criminal case overlap with those presented in the civil case; (2) the status of the criminal case, including whether the defendants have been indicted; (3) the private interests of the plaintiff in proceeding expeditiously weighed against the prejudice to the plaintiff caused by the delay; (4) the private interests of and burden on the defendants; (5) the interests of the courts; and (6) the public interest.

Hicks v. City of New York, 268 F.Supp.2d 238, 241 (E.D.N.Y. 2003). In general, "absent a showing of undue prejudice upon defendant or interference with his constitutional rights, there is no reason why plaintiff should be delayed in its efforts to diligently proceed to sustain its claim." Id. (citing, inter alia, Transatl. Reins. Co. v. Salvatore Ditrapani, Int'l, No. 90 CV 3884, 1991 WL 12135, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 28, 1991).

B. Merits of Defendants' ...


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