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Sen v. Amazon. Com, Inc.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 19, 2013

AYSE SEN, Plaintiff,
v.
AMAZON.COM, INC., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO ENFORCE THE SETTLEMENT [Doc. No. 35]

ANTHONY J. BATTAGLIA, District Judge.

Before the Court is Amazon.com's (hereinafter "Defendant" or "Amazon") Motion to Enforce the Settlement. (Doc. No. 35.) Plaintiff opposes on grounds that she did not understand the terms she signed on to and the agreement lacks valid consideration. Plaintiff's Opposition was filed on October 21, 2013. (Doc. No. 37.) The Court held a hearing on this matter on December 12, 2013, allowing the parties to present their arguments and any supporting evidence. After considering the parties' briefs filed in support and opposition, as well as the arguments presented at the hearing, the Court GRANTS the motion to enforce.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual and Procedural Background

The instant case stems from an alleged infringement of Plaintiff's trademark, "Baiden."[1] Plaintiff, appearing pro se, initiated this lawsuit against Defendant on December 4, 2012 asserting claims for trademark infringement, unfair competition, and false advertising. (Doc. No. 1.) Defendant allegedly used Plaintiff's mark in online pay-per-click campaigns and promotion on various search engines without Plaintiff's express authorization. These campaigns diverted online traffic to a landing page on Amazon's website with competitor products. Plaintiff alleged that this practice cost online traffic and sales. (Doc. No. 1, at 2).

After two attempts to compromise at Early Neutral Evaluation Conferences ("ENE") held before Magistrate Judge Bernard G. Skomal, the parties reached a settle-ment on July 9, 2013 with the assistance of Judge Skomal. (Doc. No. 20.) The parties signed and executed the Settlement Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") that same day. ( See Doc. No. 35, Ex. A, "MOU".) As the MOU expressly contemplated, Defendant prepared and sent Plaintiff a long form agreement memorializing the terms of the MOU - on August 14, 2013. However, on August 17, 2013, Plaintiff sent an email to defense counsel, Mr. Allan Anderson, attempting to add certain terms which Plaintiff contends "takes into account what [was] discussed about at the recent settlement conference." ( Id. at Ex. C.) Defendants, through their counsel Mr. Anderson, replied that the items were "not agreed to at the settlement conference." Defendant urged Plaintiff to sign the long form agreement to "put this case to bed." ( Id. at Ex. D.)

On September 9, 2013, Judge Skomal held a Settlement Disposition Conference. Regrettably, the parties were unable to agree to the terms of the original settlement MOU. (Doc. No. 29.) Defendant informed the Court of its wish to file a motion to enforce and did so on October 9, 2013. Plaintiff objects on grounds that the MOU is vague, confus-ing, and thus unenforceable. (Doc. No. 37 at 2.) Moreover, Plaintiff alleges the MOU is incomplete as it leaves out material terms agreed upon at the ENE. ( Id. at 2-3.) The Court entertained oral arguments and allowed the parties to present their contentions and any supporting evidence.

B. The Settlement MOU

The key provisions of the MOU are as follows:

1. Payment in the sum of NONE;
2. A release of all claims, including C.C.P. ยง1542 waiver, and a dismissal with prejudice of the above entitled action;
3. The Court to retain jurisdiction to enforce the settlement for a period of 1 year;...
7. If in [the] future, plaintiff discovers any further issues related [to] the Baiden mitten with Amazon.com, you can work with Amazon.com directly through copyright@amazon.com with a cc to...;
8. In the event you terminate with Amazon.com, you will provide written notice advising that no 3d parties are selling the product, that you have the valid mark and subject to good faith confirmation, Amazon.com will agree not to use "baiden" in text ...

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