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India-American Cultural Ass'n v. iLink Professionals, Inc.

Supreme Court of Georgia

March 2, 2015

INDIA-AMERICAN CULTURAL ASSOCIATION, INC.
v.
iLINK PROFESSIONALS, INC

Page 906

Equity. DeKalb Superior Court. Before Judge Hunter.

Judgment affirmed.

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, Allison S. Roach, William H. Brewster, Vaibhav P. Kadaba, Nichole D. Chollet, for appellant.

Higgins & Dubner, Michael W. Higgins, for appellee.

HINES, Presiding Justice. All the Justices concur. MELTON, Justice, concurring.

OPINION

Page 907

Hines, Presiding Justice.

This is an appeal by defendant India-American Cultural Association, Inc. (" IACA" ) from the grant of plaintiff iLink Professionals, Inc.'s (" iLink" ) emergency motion for an interlocutory injunction in its suit alleging, inter alia, the infringement of state registered service marks. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

This dispute concerns the use of the service marks, " Miss India Georgia" and " Miss Teen India Georgia," (collectively " Marks" ). The Marks are used in connection with beauty pageants, initially hosted in 1987 by IACA, a nonprofit organization focused on supporting Indian-Americans and preserving Indian culture. IACA conducted the pageants under the Marks from 1987 through 2010. In 2011, facing budgetary restrictions, IACA decided not to hold the " Miss India Georgia" and " Miss Teen India Georgia" pageants. In 2012, iLink, a promoter of beauty pageants and whose president had been involved in the " Miss India Georgia" and " Miss Teen India Georgia" pageants in the past, promoted and hosted both pageants, and IACA appeared in the pageants' program as a sponsor. After iLink announced its intention to host the 2013 pageants, and its scheduled date of July 20, 2013, IACA announced that it would hold the " Miss India-Georgia" and " Miss Teen India-Georgia" pageants the week before, on July 13, 2013. Both parties promoted their events and sought sponsorships.

On April 12, 2013, iLink filed, with the Office of the Secretary of State of Georgia, the mark " Miss India Georgia," and then on April 16, 2013, filed with that office the mark, " Miss Teen India Georgia." iLink also acquired an Internet domain name and used that website to advertise its pageant business. iLink sent IACA a letter dated May 20, 2013, demanding that IACA cease use of " Miss India Georgia" and " Miss Teen India Georgia." On May 31, 2013, IACA sent iLink a letter demanding that it cease its use of the Marks. Neither party acceded.

On June 19, 2013, iLink filed in superior court a " Verified Complaint for Infringement of Registered Service Marks, for Temporary and Permanent Injunctive Relief, and for Other Remedies," against IACA alleging the infringement of registered service marks pursuant to OCGA § 10-1-440 et seq.; service mark infringement as a fraud for which equity will grant relief; violation of Georgia's Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, OCGA § 10-1-370 et seq.; conversion; and tortious interference with contract and business relations. iLink asked for, inter alia, a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction enjoining IACA from infringing upon the registered marks and competing unfairly against iLink, judgment [296 Ga. 669] against IACA in an amount to be proved at trial, interest, attorney fees, litigation expenses, and punitive damages. On June 26, 2013, the

Page 908

superior court held a hearing on iLink's emergency motion for an interlocutory injunction, and following such hearing, on July 1, 2013, issued the now contested interlocutory injunction, enjoining IACA from " using, displaying, advertising or selling the service marks 'Miss India Georgia' and 'Miss Teen India Georgia,' with or without hyphens or in any other substantially similar or confusingly similar form," and ...


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