United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Tyler Division
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED
STATES MAGISRTATE JUDGE
W. SCHROEDER III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
above entitled and numbered civil action was referred to
United States Magistrate Judge K. Nicole Mitchell pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636. The Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation (the “Report”), which contains her
findings, conclusions and recommendation regarding Defendant
Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.'s (“Hobby Lobby”)
Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Plausible Claim
(Docket No. 12), has been presented for consideration. The
Report (Docket No. 23), filed on September 12, 2016,
recommended that Hobby Lobby's motion be denied.
October 10, 2016, Hobby Lobby filed objections to the Report
on three grounds: (1) that Twombly and
Iqbal require a practical analysis of the
complaint's plausibility, which Hobby Lobby claims the
Magistrate Judge did not conduct; (2) that KS Cayton's
claims for relief are not plausible; and (3) that policy
concerns warrant dismissal. Docket No. 26.
made a de novo review of the written objections
filed by Hobby Lobby, the Court concludes that the findings
and conclusions of the Magistrate Judge are correct. For the
reasons below, Hobby Lobby's objections are OVERRULED.
The Magistrate Judge conducted a proper plausibility analysis
of KS Cayton's complaint.
Lobby argues that the Magistrate Judge did not conduct a
“practical analysis” of the plausibility of
Plaintiff's complaint as required by Twombly and
Iqbal. Docket. No. 26 at 14 (citing Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007); Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 566 U.S. 662 (2009)). Hobby Lobby contends that
the Court need only apply “basic trademark law, ”
and its “judicial experience and common sense, ”
to find that KS Cayton's claims for relief are not
plausible. Docket No. 26 at 8 (citing Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 679).
Court addresses Hobby Lobby's specific plausibility
objections in the forthcoming section. See Part II,
infra. However, the crux of Hobby Lobby's
“practical analysis” and “common
sense” objection is that it finds implausible
Plaintiff's allegation that customers who saw a
“GET PINSPIRED” poster in a Hobby Lobby store
would likely confuse the poster as suggesting a connection
between Hobby Lobby and Plaintiff's do-it-yourself
workshop operating under the name “PINSPIRED” in
Lubbock, Texas. Docket No. 26 at 15, 20.
Lobby's argument lacks merit because it conflates
“practicality” with the
“plausibility” standard. See id. at 8
(“Twombly and Iqbal require district
judges to weed out implausible claims by applying their
practical sensibilities.”). Hobby Lobby argues that a
complaint must cross two distinct thresholds: from
“conclusory to factual, ” and from
“factually neutral to factually suggestive.”
Id. at 14 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557
Supreme Court does not require a complaint to be viewed
through a lens of practicality or probability. See
Iqbal, 566 U.S. at 678 (“The plausibility standard
is not akin to a ‘probability requirement.'
”); see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 546 (stating
that the requirement of factual allegations “serves the
practical purpose of preventing a plaintiff with
‘a largely groundless claim' from ‘taking up
the time of a number of other people. . .” but does not
impose a separate practicality requirement in
stating a claim) (internal citations omitted)
(emphasis added). In fact, the Supreme Court has clarified
that “a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it
strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is
improbable, and ‘that a recovery is remote and
unlikely.' ” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
probability or practicality is not required to state a
sufficient claim, a “sheer possibility that a defendant
has acted unlawfully” is not enough either.
Iqbal, 566 U.S. at 678. Rather, “a claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. at 679.
Report considers that KS Cayton states that it first became
aware of Hobby Lobby's alleged infringement when
individuals contacted Plaintiff inquiring about its
affiliation with Hobby Lobby after seeing the “GET
PINSPIRED” posters in a Hobby Lobby store. Docket No.
23 at 8. The Report further considers the similarity between
Plaintiff's mark and the “GET PINSPIRED”
phrase, the federal registration of the mark, and the
allegation that Hobby Lobby used the PINSPIRED mark in
connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution, or
advertisement of goods similar to the goods sold by
Plaintiff. Docket No. 23 at 7-8.
Magistrate Judge found these factual allegations sufficient
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, and
the Court agrees that “common sense” and
“judicial experience” would lend themselves to
such a finding. The allegations are sufficiently factually
suggestive to permit the Court to infer that Hobby Lobby is
liable for trademark infringement. Hobby Lobby's first
objection is therefore overruled.
KS Cayton's claims for relief are plausible.
Lobby next objects that KS Cayton's claims for relief are
not plausible because: (1) the complaint fails to plausibly
allege a likelihood of confusion; (2) the complaint fails to
plausibly allege that Hobby Lobby used “GET
PINSPIRED” as a trademark; and (3) the complaint