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Essence Imaging Inc. v. Icing Images LLC

United States District Court, C.D. California

April 9, 2014

ESSENCE IMAGING INC
v.
ICING IMAGES LLC, ET AL

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.

Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS): PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION (Dkt. #43, filed Feb. 28, 2014)

The Court finds this motion appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; Local Rule 7-15. Accordingly, the hearing date of April 14, 2014, is vacated, and the matter is hereby taken under submission.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Essence Imaging, Inc. filed this action in this Court on July 29, 2013, against defendants Icing Images, LLC ("Icing"), Deborah Coughlin, Michael Coughlin, Theresa Happe, and A-J Winbeckler Enterprises. The operative first amended complaint ("FAC") asserts claims under Section 32 of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1114, the Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200, et seq., and the False Advertising Law ("FAL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17500. Plaintiff also asserts a claim for civil conspiracy.

Plaintiff filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on February 28, 2014, seeking to enjoin allegedly false advertising by defendants Deborah Coughlin and Icing. Dkt. #43. Coughlin and Icing filed a joint opposition on March 24, 2014, dkt. #49, and plaintiff replied on March 31, 2014, dkt. #55.[1] After considering the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges that it is a California Corporation with its principal place of business in Walnut, California. FAC ¶ 4. It also does business under the name of "Edible Supply." Id . ¶ 5. Plaintiff asserts that it has been in the business of providing edible inkjet printing supplies since 2009. Tsai Decl. ¶ 2. Icing is a Virginia limited liability company, with its principal place of business in Winchester, Virginia. Coughlin Decl. ¶¶ 1, 3. Deborah Coughlin is the managing member and owner of Icing. Id . Like plaintiff, Icing is in the business of selling edible printing equipment and supplies. Coughlin Decl. ¶ 3.

Plaintiff asserts that, since 2009, it has been the only supplier of edible ink cartridges that are "sponge-free." Tsai Decl. ¶¶ 6-7. According to plaintiff, sponge-free ink cartridges are more desirable because they are less likely to have germs and bacteria, they are "more economical for consumers, " and they are easier to refill. Id . ¶ 8. Plaintiffs assert that, because of these benefits, consumers prefer to purchase edible ink cartridges that do not contain sponges. Id . ¶ 9.

Shen Hsun Tsai, the chief executive officer of plaintiff, asserts that he has personally examined cartridges sold by Icing, and has determined that the cartridges contain sponges. Tsai Decl. ¶¶ 13-14. Plaintiff asserts that Icing and Coughlin are nonetheless falsely advertising, via the internet, that their edible ink cartridges do not contain sponges. Id . ¶ 12. Plaintiff seeks to enjoin Coughlin and Icing from "making false claims that the edible ink cartridges they sell are sponge free' when in fact the products contain sponges." Mot. Prelim. Inj. at 2.[2]

III. LEGAL STANDARD

A preliminary injunction is an "extraordinary remedy." Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc. , 555 U.S. 7, 129 S.Ct. 365, 375 (2008). The Ninth Circuit summarized the Supreme Court's recent clarification of the standard for granting preliminary injunctions in Winter as follows: "[a] plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest." Am. Trucking Ass'n, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles , 559 F.3d 1046, 1052 (9th Cir. 2009); see also Cal Pharms. Ass'n v. Maxwell-Jolly , 563 F.3d 847, 849 (9th Cir. 2009). Alternatively, "serious questions going to the merits' and a hardship balance that tips sharply towards the plaintiff can support issuance of an injunction, so long as the plaintiff also shows a likelihood of irreparable injury and that the injunction is in the public interest." Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Cottrell , 622 F.3d 1045, 1053 (9th Cir. 2010). A "serious question" is one on which the movant "has a fair chance of success on the merits." Sierra On-Line, Inc. v. Phoenix Software, Inc. , 739 F.2d 1415, 1421 (9th Cir. 1984).

IV. DISCUSSION

A. Likelihood of Success on ...


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