Review Case 8.1, A U.S. Supreme Court Case titled Walmart Stores, Inc. v. Samara Brothers, Inc. Using the IRAC Method of briefing cases found in the Appendix below, prepare a document that outlines the legal aspects of this case.
Write an eight to twelve (8-12) page paper in which you:
- Summarize the facts associated with Walmart Stores, Inc. v. Samara Brothers, Inc.
- Identity the legal question(s) that is under consideration.
- Prioritize the rules of law that the court will consider in this case.
- Compile the court’s decision and opinions on the case.
- Prepare a conclusion for the outcome of the case.
Your assignment must follow these formatting requirements:
- Be typed, double spaced, using Times New Roman font (size 12), with one-inch margins on all sides; citations and references must follow APA or school-specific format. Check with your professor for any additional instructions.
- Include a cover page containing the title of the assignment, the student’s name, the professor’s name, the course title, and the date. The cover page and the reference page are not included in the required assignment page length.
The specific course learning outcomes associated with this assignment are:
- Given a business situation, evaluate the various options for resolving a business dispute from a legal perspective and develop an optimal course of action to resolve the dispute.
- Use technology and information resources to research issues in commercial law.
- Write clearly and concisely about commercial law using proper writing mechanics.
Appendix: Case 8.1 U.S. Supreme Court Business Ethics
Walmart Stores, Inc. v. Samara Brothers, Inc.
529 U.S. 205, 120 S.Ct. 1339, 149 L.Ed..2d. 182, Web 2000 U.S. Lexis 2197 (2000)
Supreme Court of the United States
“Their suspicions aroused, however, Samara officials launched an investigation, which disclosed that Walmart [was] selling the knockoffs of Samara’s outfits.”
— Justice Scalia
Samara Brothers, Inc. (Samara), is a designer and manufacturer of children’s clothing. The core of Samara’s business is its annual new line of spring and summer garments for children. Samara sold it clothing to retailers, who in turn sold the clothes to consumers. Walmart Stores, Inc. (Walmart), operates a large chain of budget warehouse stores that sell thousands of items at very low prices. Walmart contacted one of its suppliers, Judy-Philippine, Inc. (JPI), about the possibility of making a line of children’s clothes just like Samara’s successful line. Walmart sent photographs of Samara’s children clothes to JPI (the “Samara” was readily discernible on the labels of the garments) and directed JPI to produce children’s clothes exactly like those in the photographs. JPI produced a line of children’s clothes for Walmart, which had copied the designs, colors, and patterns of Samara’s clothing. Walmart then sold this line of children’s clothing in its stores, making a gross profit of over $1.15 million on these clothes sales during the 1996 selling season.
Samara discovered the Walmart was selling the knockoff clothes at a price that was lower than Samara’s retailers were paying Samara for its clothes. After sending unsuccessful cease-and-desist letters to Walmart, Samara sued Walmart, alleging that Walmart stole Samara’s trade dress (i.e., look and feel) in violation of Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act. Although not finding that Samara’s clothes had acquired a secondary meaning in the minds of the public, the U.S. District Court held in favor of Samara and awarded damages. The U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the award to Samara. Walmart appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Must a product’s design have acquired a secondary meaning before it is protected as trade dress?
Language of the U.S. Supreme Court
The Lanham Act, the Section 43(a), gives a product a cause of action for the use by any person of “any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof which is likely to cause confusion as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods.” The text of Section 43(a) provides little guidance as to the circumstances under which unregistered trade dress may be protected. It does require that a producer show that the allegedly infringing feature is likely to cause confusion with the product for which protection is sought. In an action for infringement of unregistered trade dress a product’s design is protectable only upon a showing of secondary meaning.
The U.S. Supreme Court held that a product’s design should have acquired a secondary meaning in the public’s eye before it is protected as trade dress under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.