Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. v. Blizzard Sports Center, Inc., et al
Central District of California
Civil Docket: 8:17-cv-01001-JVS-DFM
On November 2, 2018, the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California granted Blizzard Entertainment’s motion for default judgment for trademark infringement against Blizzard Sports Center. Blizzard Entertainment (Blizzard) filed the lawsuit against Blizzard Sports Center (BSC) in June of 2017. The district court found there was a likelihood of confusion due to the similarity of the names, the closely related products, and the close geographic proximity of the two companies. The court granted Blizzard an injunction and attorney’s fees.
To succeed with a claim for trademark infringement, a plaintiff must show there is a likelihood consumers will be confused about the source of the two marks. “Blizzard Entertainment” and “Blizzard Sports Center” are very similar marks because both contain the word “Blizzard.” The similarity of marks is not determinative for likelihood of confusion; there are plenty of companies with the same name in different industries. Blizzard primarily sells video games, but it is heavily involved in e-sports. The court felt that e-sports was related enough to physical sports that confusion could arise. Also, BCS’s sports facility is located within a couple of miles of Blizzard’s Irvine, California campus. The close geographic proximity of the two companies weighed heavily against BCS because a consumer might think Blizzard owned the facility. Blizzard also provided evidence of actual consumer confusion.
(Source Google Maps)
A factor in the court’s analysis was BCS’s behavior during the trial. BCS refused to cooperate during the discovery period of litigation and failed to comply with a court order to find new counsel. BCS’s original counsel withdrew around the time the court ordered the company to produce documents. As a corporation, BCS cannot appear before the court Pro Se, so the district court ordered the company to find new lawyers. For whatever reason, BCS did not obtain new counsel which forced the court to find it in default. In the opinion for default judgment, the court mentions several times BCS’s noncompliance. BCS’s behavior does not prove or disprove the trademark infringement claims, but it did not help BCS.
BCS could try to appeal the district court’s decision, but that may not happen considering the company’s actions leading up to the default judgment. We suspect that, based on BCS’s physical proximity to Blizzard and BCS’s lack of any real attempt to try to defend itself in this case, BCS either was trying to benefit from the BLIZZARD mark, or BCS might otherwise have had unclean hands in this matter. We doubt they will pursue this further, but if BCS does appeal, we will provide updates as warranted.