ATLANTA (August 13, 2018) – Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP (SGR) is pleased to announce that client, the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry (the “Grange”), the nation’s oldest agricultural fraternal organization, has claimed another victory regarding its intellectual property. Judge Shubb of the Eastern District of California awarded sweeping relief to the Grange in a summary judgment which confirms that the history and goodwill of the California State Grange, as well as its copyrighted content, is the intellectual property of the Grange. For years, California has been the epicenter of a heated battle between the Grange and the former leader of its chartered California chapter.
This litigation, National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry v. California Guild, No. 2:16-cv-00201-WBS-DB (E.D. Cal.), is one of a series of lawsuits arising from the revocation of the charter of the California State Grange in 2013 based on the organization’s failure to abide by the Grange By-Laws. After revocation, the former California State Grange Master, Defendant Robert McFarland, continued to run the organization as the “California State Grange” and refused to turn over Grange property. The Grange subsequently brought litigation in the state and federal courts to recover both its tangible and intellectual property.
In addition to issuing a judgment in the Grange’s favor on its intellectual property claims, the Court awarded actual damages in the form of Defendants’ total gross revenues from dues and loan payments. Further, Judge Shubb held that this case “can certainly be considered ‘exceptional’ [pursuant to Lanham Act § 35(a), 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a), and Cal. Civ. Code § 3294] given the intentional nature of defendants’ use of California State Grange property,” and awarded additional relief in the form of attorneys’ fees and costs, treble and punitive damages.
The parties will proceed with trial, scheduled to begin in late October, to determine the amount of damages to which the Grange is entitled.
For more information on the case and this latest win, please visit SGR’s Intellectual Property blog.
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