In a recent court order, Axon Enterprise, Inc., the manufacturer of Taser brand non-lethal weapons, has won a partial summary judgment against Luxury Home Buyers, LLC (LHB), a former distributor of Tasers. LHB, which now operates a business selling used Tasers refurbished in a home workshop, has been accused by Axon of violating its intellectual-property rights in its registered “Taser” word and design marks and for holding Taser-related domain names for ransom.
Axon brought four trademark claims under the federal Lanham Act and one claim for deceptive trade practices under Nevada law, seeking injunctive relief and money damages. Both parties moved for summary judgment, with LHB arguing that Axon couldn’t prove that the use of Axon’s marks confused consumers, Axon’s mark has not been rendered generic, LHB made any false representations, and LHB acted in bad faith when it registered domain names containing Axon’s marks.
The court granted summary judgment on LHB’s genericness defense, stating that LHB did not carry its burden to show that the term “Taser” has come to mean the entire class of conducted-energy weapons, and not just those bearing the Taser name. The court also ruled in favor of Axon on the part of its false-advertising claim over LHB’s statements of affiliation with Axon.
However, the court granted summary judgment on the portion of Axon’s false-advertising claim for statements LHB made about the superiority of the Taser X26E model. The case will now proceed to trial on Axon’s claims for trademark infringement; false designation of origin; cybersquatting; false advertising based on refurbishment-quality statements; and deceptive trade practices as to logo-and-mark-use, quality-of-goods, and product superiority/disparagement issues.
The court has ordered the parties to a mandatory settlement conference with the magistrate judge. The outcome of this case could have significant implications for the enforcement of intellectual property rights in the context of refurbished goods.