IKUTA, Circuit Judge:
In this case we are asked to decide whether an award of statutory damages for trademark counterfeiting under 15 U.S.C. § 1117(c) precludes an award of attorney's fees under 15 U.S.C. § 1117(b).
For several decades, appellee K & N Engineering, Inc. ("K & N") has been engaged in the design, manufacture, and distribution of aftermarket automotive air filters, air intake kits, and related products.
On or about October 14, 2004, K & N became aware that appellants Sarah Bulat and Steve Wandel were selling unauthorized decals bearing the K & N logo on eBay. Appellants created vinyl decals in the shape of the K & N logo and sold 89 sets of these decals (two decals per set) for a total of $267. After contacting appellants, K & N filed a complaint in the Central District of California alleging trademark infringement under 15 U.S.C §§ 1114(1) and 1125(a); trademark counterfeiting under 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1)(a); trademark dilution under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c); and related state law statutory and common law causes of action. K & N also elected to seek statutory damages under 15 U.S.C. § 1117(c). The district court granted K & N's summary judgment motion on all claims and entered judgment in favor of K & N. Pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1117(c)(1) and (b) respectively, the district court awarded K & N statutory damages of $20,000 and attorney's fees of $100,000. Appellants timely appealed both the summary judgment and the attorney's fees award.
On appeal of the attorney's fees, appellants argue that K & N's election to receive statutory damages under 15 U.S.C. § 1117(c) precludes an award of attorney's fees under § 1117(b).
"Statutory interpretation begins with the plain language of the statute. If the text of the statute is clear, this court looks no further in determining the statute's meaning." United States v. Mendoza, 244 F.3d 1037, 1042 (9th Cir.2001) (internal citations omitted); see also United States v. Ventre, 338 F.3d 1047, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003).
Reading § 1117 as a whole, the statute lays out an integrated scheme for plaintiffs in trademark infringement actions to recover damages and attorney's fees. Under § 1117(a), a plaintiff seeking actual damages for trademark infringement is entitled to reasonable attorney's fees only in "exceptional cases."
When counterfeit marks are involved, however, § 1117(b) is also applicable.
Finally, a plaintiff may eschew actual damages under § 1117(a) and elect to seek statutory damages under § 1117(c). Section 1117(c) provides:
Section 1117(c) makes no provision for attorney's fees; nor does § 1117(b) authorize such fees for a plaintiff seeking statutory damages under § 1117(c). Section 1117(b)'s attorney's fees provision applies only in cases with actual damages under § 1117(a).
In this case, K & N elected to recover statutory damages under § 1117(c). Because of K & N's election, the court did not assess or award K & N actual damages or profits under § 1117(a). Therefore, there is no statutory basis to award K & N attorney's fees under § 1117(b).
Notwithstanding the import of the statutory language, K & N argues that Intel Corp. v. Terabyte International, Inc., 6 F.3d 614 (9th Cir.1993), permits a plaintiff who has elected to obtain statutory damages under § 1117(c) to obtain attorney's fees under § 1117(b). This argument is clearly wrong. Intel considered the availability of the attorney's fees allowed for "exceptional cases" under § 1117(a), where the plaintiff was awarded actual damages under § 1117(a). Intel, 6 F.3d at 620. Section 1117(c) was not enacted until 1996, three years after Intel was decided. See Anticounterfeiting Consumer Protection Act of 1996, Pub.L. No. 104-153, 110 Stat. 1386.
Because an election to receive statutory damages under § 1117(c) precludes an award of attorney's fees under § 1117(b), we hold that the district court abused its discretion in awarding K & N $100,000 in attorney's fees. Because we reach this conclusion, we need not address appellants' remaining arguments that the fee award was improper.