Barrington Music Products Denied $4.9M in Damages

Barrington Music Products, headquartered in South Bend, Indiana, was denied $4.9 million in additional damages in its trademark infringement complaint against Music & Arts, Guitar Center, Woodwind & Brasswind and Eastman Music, a federal appeals court ruled
May 22.

Barrington Music Products sued the defendants for infringing on its "Vento" trademark with their use of the trademark "Ventus." According to the background section of the circuit court's decision, Barrington filed for registration of its "Vento" mark Jan. 6, 2010. In March 2011, Guitar Center began selling flutes, trumpets, alto saxophones, tenor saxophones and clarinets using the "Ventus" mark, with gross sales totaling about $5 million at Guitar Center, Music & Arts and Woodwind and Brasswind combined.

The jury found that only the sales made by Guitar Center stores were infringing and awarded Barrington the total amount of Guitar Center sales: $3,228.

After the judgment was entered, Barrington filed a motion asking the district court to amend the damages award.

"Barrington had discovered that the only distinct corporate entity was Guitar Centers Inc., while Music & Arts and Woodwind were each divisions of Guitar Center," the appeals court decision said. "Barrington moved the court to amend the damages award to $4,947,200, the total sales for the "Ventus" mark by all of the Guitar Center owned stores."

The district court denied the motion and Barrington appealed.

"Barrington named each division of Guitar Center as a separate defendant rather than naming only Guitar Center. This error persisted throughout the case and resulted in a verdict form that listed each defendant separately," the appeals court decision said. "The jury was instructed to determine whether each defendant violated Barrington's trademark, to list the amount of the damages and to determine whether the infringement was willful."

The jury found the total amount of infringing sales was $3,228, not $4,947,200.

"Barrington gives us no reason to conclude that the jury's verdict would be different if it were aware Music & Arts and Woodwind were merely divisions of Guitar Center rather than distinct corporations," the appeals court decision said. "The jury found Music & Arts and Woodwind did not infringe on the "Ventus" mark and there was no basis to award Barrington their "Ventus" related sales."