Summons from Illinois for copyright infringement

If you are worried about infringement or your work has been copied and you want to take action.
LauraAshleyl
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Summons from Illinois for copyright infringement

Post by LauraAshleyl »

Hi I got an email lastnight stating the following;

Dear Sirs:



The defendants operating the Defendant Internet Stores listed in Amended Schedule A to the Amended Complaint are hereby advised:



Plaintiff has charged Defendants with violations of United States federal and state laws prohibiting trademark infringement.

A copy of the Complaint, Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction Order, Motion for Entry of Preliminary Injunction, Memorandum in Support of Motion Entry of Preliminary Injunction, and Summons are attached.



These and other legal documents may be obtained from Plaintiff's attorney, William B. Kalbac, trademark@hsplegal.com, and at the following website ​Folder icon Service Link - 23-cv-15080.



Any answer or other response to the Complaint should be filed with the Clerk of the Court, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, Chicago, Illinois within twenty-one (21) days from the day you receive the summons.



If no appearance or pleading is filed, the Court may render a judgment against the defendants.



As always, if I can be of further assistance, please call or e-mail.



Sincerely,

William B. Kalbac


On the 31st of October I received a DMCA takedown of an image I had on teepublic that I had made of a pixel art bear, I’ll say, it’s similar to a care bear but not entirely.

The image was taken down and I didn’t think much more of it until I got that email lastnight. I hadn’t sold the image. It was removed with the DMCA, I didn’t reload it or anything.

On the court files I’ve been sent, it appears as though I’ve been ‘named’ (shop name) along with 200+ other people for copyright infringement and a summons is attached in the files.

What should I do? I’m a small digital artist barely making 7k a year.
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Re: Summons from Illinois for copyright infringement

Post by AndyJ »

Hi LauraAshley1 and welcome to the forums.

From your description of your artwork, it doesn't sound as if there are any grounds for alleging trade mark infringement. To qualify as infringement the 'mark' (in this case your piece of art) would need to have been used in the course of trade in a way which misled or confused the public into thinking that it was a product authorised by the trade mark owner. A mere representation of a bear alone would not meet this criterion, unless perhaps it was accompnaied by the words Care Bear or something very similar.

This sounds like a repeat of a similar operation run by an Illinois law firm which you can read about in another thread here: Etsy shop closed by US law firm. It would appear that they have widened their operation to include sites like TeePublic. On that basis, the advice given in that thread also applies to your situation. I hope that reassures you that you don't need to worry about this email.
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LauraAshleyl
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Re: Summons from Illinois for copyright infringement

Post by LauraAshleyl »

Thank you so much for replying, I’ve been extremely worried about this situation as it sounded serious. I have read the thread and it’s given me some peace of mind.

I’ve closed the Teepublic shop entirely as it wasn’t worth worrying about, it only had 3 or 4 sales in the 2 years it’s been up.

On one of the documents it appears as though Teepublic needs to give them my information and PayPal too, do you think it’s likely I will lose access to my PayPal? It’s a main source of income for me with international clients so I’m concerned. Nothing has happened as of now.

Many thanks
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Re: Summons from Illinois for copyright infringement

Post by AndyJ »

Provided that your account is with PayPal UK Ltd then you have a degree of protection from any court order which the Illinois court might make to seize your assets, assuming that the law firm carry out their threat and pursue the matter to a judgmernt. A UK business or bank is not obliged to comply with a foreign court order, although they may choose to do so in certain circumstances, so you should check with PayPal. This forum is not the place to go into more detail and so if you are still concerned you should consult your own lawyer or Citizens' Advice.
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Sicc
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Re: Summons from Illinois for copyright infringement

Post by Sicc »

Hi, thank you for adding me to the forum, I'm having the same problem i think it's the same law firm.
I find myself with this problem. Back in September I had a takedown from teepublic, it seems I used a name and tag to describe a design associated with the subculture Rockabilly(Lucky13), I had no idea that it was a trademark, never in my mind I would use it. I check this company's designs and mine has nothing to do with it, although the theme is associated with this subculture and never sold a single Item with it. Now I'm receiving mail with court orders from this Illinois law firm, accusing me and a ton of other people and teepublic of copyright infringement and selling counterfeit material. My earnings from tee public are being blocked, and mailing teepublic is no use, they don't give me much reply on this. My question is, should I mail this law firm, explaining the situation? I'm not based in Usa, although I sell most of my work with companies in usa. And now I have received another mail where they are saying ----
"Plaintiffs have charged Defendant with violations of United States federal and state laws prohibiting trademark infringement. Plaintiffs have filed the attached Motion for Entry of Default and Default Judgment, Memorandum in Support of Entry of Default and Default Judgment and Exhibits, each of which is hereby served upon you."
What can you do with this to clear out my name? Thank you!
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Re: Summons from Illinois for copyright infringement

Post by petroben »

I am not a lawyer, but I can offer some general suggestions. In a situation like this, it's crucial to seek legal advice from a qualified attorney to understand your specific circumstances. Here are some general steps you might consider:

Consult with an Attorney:
Contact an intellectual property attorney as soon as possible. They can provide guidance based on the details of your case and help you navigate the legal process.

Review Documents:
Carefully review all the documents provided, including the Complaint, Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction Order, and Summons. Understand the allegations against you and the actions required.

Respond Within Deadline:
Adhere to the specified deadline for responding to the Complaint. Failure to respond within the given timeframe could result in a default judgment against you.

Gather Information:
Gather any relevant information, documents, or evidence that might support your case. Your attorney can advise you on what information is essential.

Communicate with Attorney:
Maintain open communication with your attorney. Provide them with all the necessary information and follow their guidance throughout the legal process.

Cease and Desist:
If you haven't already, refrain from using or distributing any material that may be subject to the copyright claim.

Financial Considerations:
Discuss any potential financial implications with your attorney. They can help you understand the potential consequences and explore options for resolution.

Settlement Negotiation:
In some cases, parties may attempt to reach a settlement outside of court. Your attorney can advise you on whether this might be a viable option.

Remember, this is general information, and legal advice tailored to your specific situation is essential. If you're unable to afford legal representation, consider reaching out to organizations that offer pro bono legal services for artists or seeking legal aid.
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Re: Summons from Illinois for copyright infringement

Post by AndyJ »

Petroben,

Welcome to the forum. I have approved your posting because it was not outright spam, but it strikes me as something ChatGPT might write. Your comments completely miss the point that in most cases the people being bombarded with claims by these US law firms live outside the jurisdiction of the US courts. Consulting a US attorney is therfore an expensive option - possibly costing more than the actual claim. Consulting a lawyer in the UK or Canada, as appropriate, may be cheaper but is still a cost they could do without. It is worth stating that in all these cases the actual infringement alleged is never specified in the documentation and each complaint includes dozens or possibly hundreds of defendents who clearly can't all be responsible for exactly the same alleged infringement.

It is a scheme being run by dubious lawyers. Your suggestions would merely lead to other, more reputable, lawyers would be enriched.
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Sicc
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Re: Summons from Illinois for copyright infringemente

Post by Sicc »

Thank you so much for your reply.I’m in Portugal and trying to find an attorney for this issue, I have contact 2 lawyers in usa still haven’t found someone to explain what I need to do or the cost of it. But it’s this time of the year holidays. Yes you are right, there’s lot of names on the list, all nicknames used on the platform, but no evidence for the accusation. I did use the name, without knowing it’s was copyrighted( the site should have a filter for this, some site do have), but my design has nothing to do with what they sale and I never sold a item with that specific design. Trying to gather information I notice this is happening to a lot of artists and designer. My design was takendown, I make original art work, do not need to uses other’s work, and this is really making me very down and frustrated. I have seen for time to time my own work stolen and for sale on other platforms and ask for a takedown. But this is to much, ok I used the name that’s copyright, I didn’t know that, never sold an item. There is this claim and I do not know how I defend my self from this. Waiting for a reply from a lawyer, but I need to reply until the 9th of January to the claim.
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Re: Summons from Illinois for copyright infringement

Post by LauraAshleyl »

Hi,

Just adding on to my original post -

I just received an email with a ‘motion for default judgement’ they are asking for $100,000 from each defendant.

What do I do from here… should I continue to ignore it?

What I do not understand is that they’ve still not provided any evidence for any of the 200+ defendants to show any copyright infringements. How is it possible to submit these cases without providing any evidence? I am so stressed out with this situation.
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Re: Summons from Illinois for copyright infringement

Post by AndyJ »

hi Laura,

Really, from your perspective, nothing has changed. They still haven't specified what it is that they claim infringes the trade mark of their client. Nor, I suspect, have they done so for the dozens of other defendants who are listed on the same court filing. On that basis you cannot sensibly submit any rebuttal to the court, even if that was what you wanted to do.

I would like to think that no court would give a case like this the time of day, but in the USA there are too many instances of judges making bad or dubious decisions to have any confidence in that belief. But as I explained, even a default judgment against you doesn't actually mean anything other than losing your TeePublic account, since it cannot be directly enforced against you in the UK. I don't think I mentioned this earlier, but if you haven't done so already, you should contact TeePublic's legal team and lodge a counter-notice. You can read about how to do this here. Just explain that you have been hit with a vague and unsupported infringement claim and that you have a good faith belief that your goods do not infringe any copyright or trade marks. If TeePublic are following the rules with regard to the DMCA, they should restore your account. Be aware that, technically speaking, the DMCA process shouldn't be used for allegations of trade mark infringement, but it tends to be adopted as a generic system which is quick and effective both for genuine cases, and also for the highly dubious ones such as this.

Because I am not your legal advisor, I can't give you advice on how to conduct your side of the litigation. If you are really worried then you should consult a solicitor with experience in intellectual property law, using the Law Society website to find someone who can help. However this will cost you a few hundred pounds if you want them to draft a response to the court on your behalf.
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Re: Summons from Illinois for copyright infringement

Post by despowley »

We are just going through the same kind of situation, this time with a T-Shirt sold on eBay.
I am private person, not a business anyway and In January 2024 I sold a Roblox T-shirt, legally bought from a reputable UK high street retailer, Next, in 2021. I have all the receipts and proof of purchase etc. Earlier this year I received a legal notice stating we had infringed Roblox's trademarks, copyright and intellectual property along with 174 other defendants in what we now know as a SAD scheme.
Unfortunately, we thought the first email was a scam, so we ignored it. A month later we received another email - this time we did respond asking for more information and proof of the alleged infringement. We received nothing back and heard nothing further until Tuesday 2nd April when I received notification from eBay that my account was permanently suspended and that we had been judged to have infringed the copyright for providing no response and no defence.
I don't care about my eBay account just the potential damages that could be levied. eBay has been entirely useless and is damaging itself when innocent people are being prosecuted just for doing what eBay, Etsy or any of the other online marketplaces are set up for.
I also struggle with a default judgement where no evidence of wrongdoing is demonstrated or proven. No statue in the US for innocent until proven guilty apparently.
My question is this. As a UK citizen does this judgement hold any weight under UK law and can I be pursued for damages by this law firm without them pursuing me through UK courts.
I also assume a UK court would want to see proof of infringement and they likelihood of success would be minimal, I don't believe a UK court would just accept the default judgement of the Northern District of Illinois. Any advice would be gratefully received.
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Re: Summons from Illinois for copyright infringement

Post by AndyJ »

Hi despowley and welcome to the forum.

If you were selling a genuine Roblox tee shirt on eBay then you have not infringed either copyright or any trade mark law by simply describing the shirt using the word Roblox, any more than I am doing so here using the word descriptively. That is the law in the US and in the UK. So first of all, I think Ebay have been remarkably stupid not to realise that they are undermining their own position as market for second hand goods. And secondly the court in Illinois would be entirely derelict if it allowed such cases to go to default judgment without at least a cursory glance at whether there was a genuine case to answer. Unfortunately we have no evidence that any of these cases actually go to trial, so we can't see the judgments. Assuming that you were selling on ebay.co.uk there would also be considerable doubt over whether the Illinois court had jurisdiction to hear the case in the first place.

But turning to your concerns, I think you can be sure that no UK court would enforce a judgment as sketchy as the one which might emerge from a case like this. You would be given the opportunity to present your defence (either in writing or in person) and once you did that it would become obvious that the original grounds for the claim were spurious, and enforcement would be denied. However that would only happen provided that you did defend the action in the UK.

However my instinct is that these cases never go to a full hearing in the first place. The dodgy legal firm use the court paperwork to scare the so-called defendants into paying their outrageous demands and don't need to incur the courts fees necessary for a full hearing. All you have lost is your Ebay account which you could probably re-open using a different email account if you wanted to. However given Ebay's attititude to this kind of scam, I'm not sure you would want to. Sounds like it's Vinted's gain.
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despowley
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Re: Summons from Illinois for copyright infringement

Post by despowley »

Thank you, that is also my instinct however, I just receive this from a UK lawyer which does seem to still cast doubt.

"Thank you for your enquiry.

We have carried out a brief review of the documentation attached to your email. In principle, there is no reason why a judgment of the Illinois court could not be enforced in this jurisdiction. However, this assumes that the proceedings are in fact valid, the claim has merit under US law and the requisite procedural steps have been satisfied in both Illinois and under English law in order to bring the proceedings to your attention and apply for what appears to be default judgment on the claim. Whilst we can advise you on the position under English law, the majority of these issues will fall be determined by reference to the law of Illinois. We are not able to advise you on your legal position under Illinois law. You would need to instruct a local lawyer/attorney in the US to deal with those issues.

Assuming the proceedings are valid, have been correctly served and the plaintiff was entitled to obtain default judgment, then there is no reason why the monetary aspect of the judgment could not be enforced in this jurisdiction. This cannot be done as of right. The plaintiff would need to apply to the English court to have the judgment registered in England. Once done, the judgment could be enforced as if it were a judgment of the English courts. It is unclear from the judgment what sums are being sought from you, but it may be that in reality the plaintiff would not take this step given the costs involved. In the absence of a reciprocal agreement between the US and the UK for the mutual recognition of civil judgments, the plaintiff would need to commence fresh proceedings in England. This effectively takes the form of a debt action for the judgment sum. The English courts will not generally look behind the foreign judgment.

Regarding the extra-territorial effect of the injunctive element, this would initially be a question for a local lawyer/attorney as the position would be governed by US law. Under English law, the courts can grant injunctions which have extra-territorial effect (e.g. a worldwide freezing injunction), but they can only be enforced abroad where they are recognised in a foreign jurisdiction. It seems to me that the first step would be to determine whether the US courts have the power to grant injunctions for IP infringement that bind defendants based in another jurisdiction. For example, pursuant to the US Lanham Act.

If you would like some advice on this matter, I recommend, in the first instance, you seek advice from an Illinois qualified lawyer in respect of the substantive claim and the validity of the judgment. We could instruct an Illinois lawyer on your behalf, but we would need to charge for the time incurred in reviewing all the documents, preparing instructions and liaising with you and the attorney. It will be more cost effective for you to instruct someone directly. A good stating point would be contacting the Illinois State Bar Association."

Followed by:

"The time period for an appeal and the process to be followed would be determined by Illinois law. Under English law, the appellant must first seek permission to appeal. This must be done within 21 days of the decision under appeal unless the court orders a different period. It is a short period of time. I cannot advise you on any rights of appeal under Illinois law. You would need to take local law advice.

If you wish to purse an appeal, you would need to appeal the substantive judgment obtained in Illinois. I would not assume that you will be able to appeal the underlying judgment if the plaintiff did take steps to enforce the judgment in England. As I said before, when considering whether a foreign judgment should be registered under common law the English courts do not generally trouble themselves with reviewing the merits of the underlying claim. The point would probably be taken that if you wanted to do that then you should have engaged with the proceedings in Illinois."

I have now had three responses from lawyers saying nothing to worry about and effectively this is just a scam and three saying we may have a problem. Do you recommend anyone we could speak to that would give us a definitive answer? I don't want to go the expense of hiring US attorneys if they never attempt to take money from us. I also don't understand how they could given all they have is an email address and eBay username. No actual legal details have been - or will be shared.
Thanks
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Re: Summons from Illinois for copyright infringement

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Des,
I am certainly on the side of those lawyers who have said there is little or nothing for you to worry about. My belief is that the original court filing in Illinois is intended to scare people like you, to get you to provide more details about yourself so that they can better extort the fees they are demanding from you. In the other cases of this type that I have seen, the defendants are nothing more than a set of foreign URLs, Etsy and Ebay shops and their corresponding email addresses. These same court papers I have seen given absolutely no details of the alleged infringements for each individual defendant, making it impossible to reply with a sensible defence. This is a fishing expedition on a grand scale, and we have no evidence that any of these cases actually go to a full hearing.

Having said all that, I can tell you no more about the detail of US law than can the UK solicitors you have already consulted because none of us are qualified to practise law at either the US federal level or the Illinois State level.
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Re: Summons from Illinois for copyright infringement

Post by maryyang »

I have also received this email today:


Dear Sirs:

The defendants operating the Defendant Internet Stores listed in Schedule A to the Complaint are hereby advised:

Plaintiff has charged Defendants with violations of United States federal and state laws prohibiting trademark infringement.

A copy of the Complaint, Temporary Restraining Order, Notice of Motion, Motion for Entry of Preliminary Injunction, Memorandum in Support of Motion Entry of Preliminary Injunction, and Summons are attached.

These and other legal documents may be obtained from Plaintiff's attorney, John Wilson, trademark@hsplegal.com, and at the following website: ​Folder icon 24-cv-2702; Motion for PIO

Any answer or other response to the Complaint should be filed with the Clerk of the Court, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, Chicago, Illinois within twenty-one (21) days from the day you receive the summons.

If no appearance or pleading is filed, the Court may render a judgment against the defendants.

As always, if I can be of further assistance, please call or e-mail.



I'm from Canada. My artwork on Redbubble had the title "Grumpy Cat Painting," and I assume the title got on their radar. The painting had absolutely nothing to do with the actual Grumpy Cat. It was taken down from my Redbubble a few months ago; I didn't bother.

Should I be worried about this? I'm ok if they suspend my Redbubble shop, as I'm not active there anymore. Please help someone?
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