Amazing Spaces, Inc., and Metro Mini Storage are rival self-storage businesses in Houston, Texas. Amazing Spaces brought this action against Metro and Landmark Interest Corporation, a construction company, alleging infringement of a star design that it claims as a service mark. The district court concluded that the design was not a legally protectable mark and dismissed Amazing Spaces's claims on summary judgment. We agree that the design was not legally protectable, and we affirm the judgment dismissing Amazing Spaces's service mark infringement claims. However, we also conclude that the district court erred in dismissing Amazing Spaces's claims relating to infringement of its trade dress, and we reverse and remand for further proceedings.
Amazing Spaces and Metro compete directly with each other in providing self-storage services in Houston, Texas. Landmark has built facilities for both Amazing Spaces and Metro. Amazing Spaces claims, in connection with providing storage services, exclusive use rights in a design consisting of a raised, five-pointed star set within a circle (the "Star Symbol"), a copy of which is attached as an appendix to this opinion.
Amazing Spaces was founded in 1998 by Scott and Kathy Tautenhahn, and it currently operates three storage facilities in the greater Houston area. The facilities opened in 1998, 2001, and 2006, respectively. Landmark was hired to build each of these facilities and, at Amazing Spaces's request, installed the Star Symbol under the peaks of the facilities' gabled roofs. Amazing Spaces has used the Star Symbol in its facilities' architecture and in its advertising, and it claims to have done so since at least April 1998. One trade magazine has recognized Amazing Spaces for its storage services, and the magazine displayed the Star Symbol in connection with the accompanying article. Amazing Spaces has also used the Star Symbol to designate the locations of its facilities on maps, and it claims to have directed customers—through telephone advertisements—to "look for the star."
Landmark has also constructed self-storage facilities for Metro; these facilities feature a similar five-pointed-star-in-a-circle design (but not raised) on their gables. Despite Amazing Spaces's demand that Metro cease its use of a star, Metro continued to use its design and remodeled existing facilities to include the design. According to Amazing Spaces, this has caused confusion among its customers, who mistook Metro's facilities for new Amazing Spaces facilities. According to Kathy Tautenhahn, existing or prospective customers have inquired about whether new Amazing Spaces facilities had opened where Metro facilities were located. The record also includes a declaration from a customer to similar effect.
Prior to this lawsuit, Amazing Spaces had, at one other time, threatened legal action against a rival self-storage business for using a star design on its buildings. However, the matter never culminated in a lawsuit: Community Self Storage removed its star design in response to Amazing Spaces's demands. In the present case, Amazing Spaces has submitted a declaration by its alarm technician that the technician was confused by the appearance of Community's facility and believed it to be an Amazing Spaces facility.
Unlike Community, however, and as mentioned above, Metro refused to cease using its star design, and Amazing Spaces proceeded to file the lawsuit at issue. Metro and Landmark each filed an answer, asserting various affirmative defenses and counterclaims. One of these counterclaims was a request that the trademark be canceled for invalidity. The district court recognized early on that "[t]here does seem to be a question about the trademarkability of the Texas star logo." Accordingly, the court ordered discovery to proceed in stages, with the first stage limited to "the threshold issues raised by the `trademarkability' of the Texas star and similar issues affecting copyright and trade dress."
Following discovery, Metro
In determining whether the Star Symbol was inherently distinctive, the district court considered two tests. See id. at 735-36. The first is known as the Abercrombie test, after Judge Friendly's opinion in Abercrombie & Fitch Co. v. Hunting World, Inc., 537 F.2d 4 (2d Cir.1976). Under this test, marks are "classified in categories of generally increasing distinctiveness... [:] (1) generic; (2) descriptive; (3) suggestive; (4) arbitrary; or (5) fanciful." Two Pesos, Inc. v. Taco Cabana, Inc., 505 U.S. 763, 768, 112 S.Ct. 2753, 120 L.Ed.2d 615 (1992) (citing Abercrombie, 537 F.2d at 9). The second test was articulated in Seabrook Foods, Inc. v. Bar-Well Foods Ltd., 568 F.2d 1342 (C.C.P.A.1978). Under the Seabrook Foods test, courts look to a set of factors "[i]n determining whether a design is arbitrary or distinctive":
Id. at 1344 (footnotes omitted).
After laying out the two tests, the district court proceeded to consider their application to the Star Symbol. It first determined that the Star Symbol was not generic or a common geometric shape. Amazing Spaces, 665 F.Supp.2d at 737. It then determined that the Star Symbol was not descriptive of any "characteristic or quality of self-storage service[s]." Id. For essentially the same reason, and because Amazing Spaces disclaimed any argument to the contrary, the court further concluded that the Star Symbol was not suggestive. Id. Under the Abercrombie rubric, this process of elimination left only two possibilities remaining: the Star Symbol was either arbitrary or fanciful. Both of those "categories of marks, because their intrinsic nature serves to identify a particular source of a product, are deemed inherently distinctive and are entitled to protection." Two Pesos, 505 U.S. at 768, 112 S.Ct. 2753. However, the district court refused to reach such a conclusion, stating that "the star mark cannot be classified as arbitrary or fanciful unless it is inherently distinctive so as to serve as a source identifier for Amazing Spaces." Amazing Spaces, 665 F.Supp.2d at 737.
The district court then proceeded to assess the inherent distinctiveness of the
Having concluded that the Star Symbol was not inherently distinctive, the district court next examined whether the summary judgment record raised a fact issue regarding secondary meaning. See id. at 739. The court noted that the inquiry was primarily an empirical one, with survey evidence providing the best evidence and other evidence—such as length and manner of the mark's use, nature and extent of advertising and promotion of the mark, sales volume, actual confusion, and the defendant's intent—also bearing on the matter. Id. at 739-40. The district court found that no fact issue had been raised regarding secondary meaning because Amazing Spaces had not submitted any survey evidence, the advertising primarily involved a different design of which the Star Symbol was only a minor part, and the evidence of actual confusion involved the Star Symbol only in conjunction with architectural similarities in the buildings. Id. at 741-42.
Final judgment was entered by separate order on September 28, 2009. That judgment explained, "For the reasons stated in this court's Memorandum and Opinion entered this date, this action is dismissed with prejudice." The judgment had the effect of dismissing Amazing Spaces's entire case and did not differentiate the claims based on the Star Symbol from those based on its trade dress, of which the Star Symbol is merely one element. On October 19, Amazing Spaces filed a notice of appeal from the district court's judgment dismissing its action with prejudice.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
"We review a district court's grant of summary judgment de novo." Bd. of Supervisors
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). "[T]he burden on the moving party may be discharged by `showing'—that is, pointing out to the district court—that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).
Whether a mark is inherently distinctive and whether it has acquired secondary meaning are questions of fact. Pebble Beach Co. v. Tour 18 I Ltd., 155 F.3d 526, 537 (5th Cir.1998), abrogated on other grounds by TrafFix Devices, Inc. v. Marketing Displays, Inc., 532 U.S. 23, 121 S.Ct. 1255, 149 L.Ed.2d 164 (2001). Nevertheless, "summary judgment may be upheld if the summary judgment record compels the conclusion that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Smack Apparel, 550 F.3d at 474 (citing Beef/Eater Rests., Inc. v. James Burrough Ltd., 398 F.2d 637, 639 (5th Cir.1968)).
A district court's grant of summary judgment may be affirmed "based on any rationale presented to the district court for consideration and supported by facts uncontroverted in the summary judgment record." Terrebonne Parish Sch. Bd. v. Mobil Oil Corp., 310 F.3d 870, 887 (5th Cir.2002) (citing Williams v. Int'l Bhd. of Elec. Workers (In re Williams), 298 F.3d 458, 462 (5th Cir.2002); Grenier v. Med. Eng'g Corp., 243 F.3d 200, 207 (5th Cir. 2001)); accord Conkling v. Turner, 18 F.3d 1285, 1296 n. 9 (5th Cir.1994) ("This court may affirm a grant of summary judgment on any appropriate ground that was raised to the district court and upon which both parties had the opportunity to introduce evidence." (citing cases)).
In reviewing the parties' dispute over whether summary judgment was proper in this case, we first consider the issue addressed by the district court's opinion below—whether the Star Symbol is legally protectable as a service mark.
A. The Star Symbol
Trademark and service mark infringement claims are governed by the Trademark Act of 1946 (Lanham Act), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1051 et seq.
In reviewing whether the Star Symbol qualifies for protection as a mark, we begin with the definitions provided by the Lanham Act. Section 45 of the Lanham Act
Lanham Act § 45, 15 U.S.C. § 1127; accord Two Pesos, 505 U.S. at 768, 112 S.Ct. 2753
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Samara Bros., Inc., 529 U.S. 205, 210-11, 120 S.Ct. 1339, 146 L.Ed.2d 182 (2000) (citations, alterations, and quotation marks omitted); accord RESTATEMENT § 13, at 104-05 ("A word, name, symbol, device, or other designation... is `distinctive' ... if: (a) the designation is `inherently distinctive,' ... or (b) the designation, although not `inherently distinctive,' has ... acquired distinctiveness... [,] commonly referred to as `secondary meaning.'"). Registration of a mark with the PTO constitutes prima facie evidence of the mark's validity and the registrant's exclusive right to use the registered mark in commerce with respect to the specified goods or services. Lanham Act §§ 7(b) & 33(a), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1057(b) & 1115(a); Elvis Presley Enters. v. Capece, 141 F.3d 188, 194 (5th Cir.1998) (citing Lanham Act § 33(a), 15 U.S.C. § 1115(a)).
Amazing Spaces claims that the Star Symbol is sufficiently distinctive to warrant protection as a service mark. The requisite distinctiveness, it claims, is shown in three distinct manners: (1) the statutory presumption of validity flowing from the '845 Registration; (2) the Star Symbol's inherent distinctiveness; and (3) evidence that the Star Symbol has acquired secondary meaning. In response, Metro rejects each claimed source of distinctiveness and further requests that we order cancellation of the '845 Registration. We address each argument in turn.
1. Statutory Presumption of Validity
As mentioned above, proof of the registration of a mark with the PTO constitutes prima facie evidence that the mark is valid and that the registrant has the exclusive right to use the registered mark in commerce with respect to the specified goods or services. Lanham Act §§ 7(b) & 33(a), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1057(b) & 1115(a); Elvis Presley Enters., 141 F.3d at 194 (citing Lanham Act § 33(a), 15 U.S.C. § 1115(a)). This presumption of validity may be rebutted by establishing that the mark is not inherently distinctive. See Vision Ctr. v. Opticks, Inc., 596 F.2d 111, 119 (5th Cir. 1979) ("Although a statutory presumption of validity is accorded to marks registered under the Lanham Act, this presumption is rebuttable and may be overcome by establishing the generic or descriptive nature of the mark." (citations omitted)); Xtreme Lashes, 576 F.3d at 232 (noting that, registration notwithstanding, "if the mark is found to be either generic or descriptive and lacking secondary meaning, a court may cancel it" (citing 15 U.S.C. § 1119; Soweco, Inc. v. Shell Oil Co., 617 F.2d 1178,
The Fourth Circuit has, in three cases, addressed the effect of the presumption of validity accorded registered trademarks. In America Online, Inc. v. AT&T Corp., the court was confronted with an argument that it should accord Chevron deference
243 F.3d 812, 817-18 (4th Cir.2001) (citations, alterations, and quotation marks omitted). The America Online court then noted that, in addition to the registration, other evidence tended to create a factual dispute, and it concluded that summary judgment had been improperly granted. Id. at 818.
Two later cases addressed whether the America Online decision foreclosed summary judgment in any case where the validity of a registered mark was challenged. One case suggested that summary judgment was indeed precluded: "The prima facie evidence provided by the certificate of registration is generally sufficient to establish a question of material
Id. at 542-43 (citations and alterations omitted). The court then expressly rejected the contention "that the issuance of a certificate of registration is, by itself, sufficient to create a jury issue on the validity of the mark in question because it embodies the PTO's informed opinion that the mark is registrable," id. at 543, and it affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in light of the "one-sided evidence . . . rebut[ting] the presumption" in that case, id. at 546.
The approach that the Fourth Circuit has taken regarding the presumption of validity is consistent with our precedent. See Vision Ctr., 596 F.2d at 119-20 ("Opticks has argued persuasively, not merely with equal force, that the partnership's name is [not inherently distinctive]. The weight of these arguments is more than sufficient to rebut the prima facie presumption that the name is [inherently distinctive]." (citations omitted)). Other circuits are in general agreement. See Tie Tech, Inc. v. Kinedyne Corp., 296 F.3d 778, 783-84 (9th Cir.2002) ("Under Tie Tech's theory . . ., a defendant in a trademark infringement action could never prevail at the summary judgment stage on an invalidity defense because the registration itself would always raise a material issue of fact. This approach not only inflates the evidentiary value of a trademark registration, but ignores situations where [validity] can be determined as a matter of law based on undisputed facts."); Door Sys., Inc. v. Pro-Line Door Sys., Inc., 83 F.3d 169, 172 (7th Cir.1996) ("The presumption of validity . . . evaporates as soon as evidence of invalidity is presented. Its only function is to incite such evidence, and when the function has been performed the presumption drops out of the case." (citations omitted)); see also ITC Ltd. v. Punchgini, Inc., 482 F.3d 135, 148 (2d Cir.2007) ("The significance of a presumption.. . is to shift the burden of production to the mark owner to come forward with evidence. . . . The ultimate burden of persuasion . . ., however, remains at all times with the alleged infringer."); A.C. Aukerman Co. v. R.L. Chaides Constr. Co., 960 F.2d 1020, 1037 (Fed.Cir.1992) ("[A] presumption is not merely rebuttable but completely vanishes upon the introduction of evidence sufficient to support a finding of the nonexistence of the presumed fact."). As a result, Metro's introduction of evidence that the Star Symbol is not distinctive has reduced the presumption of validity to evidence that the PTO is of the opinion that the Star Symbol is sufficiently distinctive to be legally protectable as a mark.
2. Inherent Distinctiveness
As mentioned above, "a mark is inherently distinctive if `its intrinsic nature serves to identify a particular source.'" Wal-Mart Stores, 529 U.S. at 210, 120 S.Ct. 1339 (alteration omitted) (quoting Two Pesos, 505 U.S. at 768, 112 S.Ct. 2753). Inherent distinctiveness is attributable to a mark when the mark "almost automatically tells a customer that it refers to a brand and . . . immediately signal[s] a brand or a product source." Id. at 212, 120 S.Ct. 1339 (alterations and internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Qualitex Co. v. Jacobson Prods. Co., 514 U.S. 159, 162-63, 115 S.Ct. 1300, 131 L.Ed.2d 248 (1995)). The parties disagree over not only the answer to whether the Star Symbol is inherently distinctive but also over the proper method for conducting the inquiry. Metro urges that the familiar Abercrombie test cannot be used to categorize the Star Symbol and instead asks that we apply the Seabrook Foods test to determine that the Star Symbol is not inherently distinctive. Amazing Spaces, by contrast, presses the application of the Abercrombie test, under which it claims the Star Symbol is inherently distinctive, and it argues alternatively that the Star Symbol is inherently distinctive under the Seabrook Foods test.
In Abercrombie, Judge Friendly sought to arrange the universe of marks into a spectrum of distinctiveness. See 537 F.2d at 9. As the Supreme Court has noted, "[m]arks are often classified in categories of generally increasing distinctiveness; following the classic formulation set out by Judge Friendly, they may be (1) generic; (2) descriptive; (3) suggestive; (4) arbitrary; or (5) fanciful." Two Pesos, 505 U.S. at 768, 112 S.Ct. 2753 (citing Abercrombie, 537 F.2d at 9); accord Xtreme Lashes, 576 F.3d at 227 (noting that "[m]arks are normally assigned" to these categories). Under this scheme, "`[t]he latter three categories of marks, because their intrinsic nature serves to identify a particular source of a product, are deemed inherently distinctive and are entitled to protection,'" Xtreme Lashes, 576 F.3d at 227 (quoting Two Pesos, 505 U.S. at 768, 112 S.Ct. 2753), while "[g]eneric terms receive no trademark protection, [and] descriptive terms merit protection only if they have secondary meaning," id. (citing Two Pesos, 505 U.S. at 769, 112 S.Ct. 2753).
We agree with Metro that the Star Symbol resists categorization under the Abercrombie test, and we consequently do not rely on a rote application of its categories in determining whether the Star Symbol is inherently distinctive. The Supreme Court's most recent recitation of the Abercrombie categories noted its use only in the context of marks consisting of words. See Wal-Mart Stores, 529 U.S. at 210, 120 S.Ct. 1339 ("In the context of word marks, courts have applied the now-classic test originally formulated by Judge Friendly.. . ." (emphasis added) (citing Abercrombie, 537 F.2d at 10-11)). The Court's precedent also supports the proposition that some marks, although deserving of legal protection, do not fit within the Abercrombie spectrum. In Qualitex, the Court declined to apply the Abercrombie test to a mark consisting purely of a shade of color used in a product's trade dress, holding that the mark could constitute a legally protectable mark only through a showing of secondary meaning. 514 U.S. at 162-63, 115 S.Ct. 1300. The Court further extended that logic when, in Wal-Mart Stores, it stated that "[i]t seems to us that [product] design, like color, is not inherently distinctive" and held that marks consisting of a product's design were protectable only upon proof of secondary meaning—a conclusion
RESTATEMENT § 13 cmt. d, at 107.
As the district court discovered, the challenge of placing the Star Symbol into Abercrombie's constellation of categories is a futile endeavor. We have described the Abercrombie categories as follows:
Zatarains, Inc. v. Oak Grove Smokehouse, Inc., 698 F.2d 786, 790-91 (5th Cir.1983) (citations and quotation marks omitted), abrogated on other grounds by KB Permanent Make-Up, Inc. v. Lasting Impression I, Inc., 543 U.S. 111, 125 S.Ct. 542, 160 L.Ed.2d 440 (2004). A mark's placement on this spectrum determines whether and how it is entitled to legal protection. Marks that are suggestive, arbitrary, or fanciful, "because their intrinsic nature serves to identify a particular source of a product, are deemed inherently distinctive and are entitled to protection." Two Pesos, 505 U.S. at 768, 112 S.Ct. 2753. In contrast, descriptive marks may be protected upon a showing of acquired or secondary meaning, while generic marks may
The district court briefly probed the utility of applying the Abercrombie test and concluded that the Star Symbol did not fit as a generic, descriptive, or suggestive mark. See Amazing Spaces, 665 F.Supp.2d at 737. The district court first rejected the notion that the Star Symbol was generic because "[a] five-pointed star within a circle does not refer to a product or service provided by a self-storage company" and "[t]he evidence of widespread use of a five-point star or a five-point star set within a circle by many diverse businesses and government offices supports the conclusion that the star mark is not related to or a generic symbol for self-storage goods or services." Id. It next determined that the Star Symbol was not descriptive because "[i]t does not identify a characteristic or quality of self-storage service, such as its function or quality." Id. Nor was the Star Symbol suggestive, according to the district court, because "[t]here is no basis to conclude that a five-pointed star set within a circle suggests an attribute of self-storage services." Id. We discern no flaws in the district court's analysis with respect to these three categories. However, the logical extension of the district court's analysis is the conclusion that the Star Symbol is arbitrary or fanciful, which under the Abercrombie test would render it inherently distinctive and thus entitled to protection. Yet the district court refused to so conclude, stating that "the star mark cannot be classified as arbitrary or fanciful unless it is inherently distinctive so as to serve as a source identifier for Amazing Spaces." Id. It then turned to the Seabrook Foods test in conducting its inquiry into the Star Symbol's inherent distinctiveness. See id.
We agree that the Star Symbol—indeed, any mark—lacks inherent distinctiveness if its intrinsic nature does not serve to identify its source. See Wal-Mart Stores, 529 U.S. at 210, 120 S.Ct. 1339 ("[A] mark is inherently distinctive if `its intrinsic nature serves to identify a particular source.'" (alteration omitted) (quoting Two Pesos, 505 U.S. at 768, 112 S.Ct. 2753)). Furthermore, as we have already indicated, we approve the district court's decision to apply a test other than Abercrombie in this case. However, we disagree somewhat with the district court's reasoning that a mark cannot be categorized as arbitrary or fanciful unless it is inherently distinctive. Under the Abercrombie test, it is the categorization of a mark that dictates its inherent distinctiveness, not the other way around. A rote application of the Abercrombie test yields the conclusion that the Star Symbol is an arbitrary or fanciful mark because it "`bear[s] no relationship to the products or services to which [it is] applied.'" Pebble Beach, 155 F.3d at 540 (quoting Zatarains, 698 F.2d at 791).
Both the Supreme Court and scholars have questioned the applicability of the Abercrombie test to marks other than words. See Wal-Mart Stores, 529 U.S. at 210-13, 120 S.Ct. 1339 (noting that the Abercrombie test was developed and applied "[i]n the context of word marks" and declining to apply it to a mark consisting of product design); Qualitex, 514 U.S. at 162-63, 115 S.Ct. 1300 (referring to the Abercrombie test but not applying it to a mark consisting of a shade of color); RESTATEMENT § 13 cmt. d, at 107 ("[U]nless the symbol or design is striking, unusual, or otherwise likely to differentiate the products of a particular producer, the designation is not inherently distinctive."); 1 McCARTHY ON TRADEMARKS § 7:33, at 7-88.1-89 ("Ordinary geometric shapes . . . are regarded as nondistinctive and protectable only upon proof of secondary meaning... . However, uncommon or unusual shapes and symbols . . . can be regarded as inherently distinctive . . . . The issue is whether this shape is so unusual for this type of goods or services that its distinctiveness can be assumed."); 1 McCARTHY ON TRADEMARKS § 8:13, at 8-58.1 ("Only in some cases does [Abercrombie] classification make sense [for trade dress]. . . . The word spectrum of marks simply does not translate into the world of shapes and images."); 2 McCARTHY ON TRADEMARKS § 11:2, at 11-7 ("Use of the spectrum of descriptive, suggestive, arbitrary and fanciful is largely confined to word marks. It is usually not suitable for nonword designations such as shapes and images making up trade dress."). We do not go so far as to hold that the Abercrombie test is eclipsed every time a mark other than a word is at issue. Instead, we hold that the Abercrombie test fails to illuminate the fundamental inquiry in this case: whether the Star Symbol's "`intrinsic nature serves to identify'" Amazing Spaces and its storage services. Wal-Mart Stores, 529 U.S. at 210, 120 S.Ct. 1339 (quoting Two Pesos, 505 U.S. at 768, 112 S.Ct. 2753). For the answer to that question, we now turn to the Seabrook Foods test employed by the district court.
In contrast to the Abercrombie test, the Seabrook Foods test, articulated by the U.S. Court of Customs and Patent Appeals in 1977, applies expressly to marks consisting of symbols and designs:
Seabrook Foods, 568 F.2d at 1344 (footnotes omitted).
We agree with the assessment of the I.P. Lund Trading court and Professor McCarthy that the Seabrook Foods factors are variations on a theme rather than discrete inquiries. In Star Industries v. Bacardi & Co., the Second Circuit noted that "`[c]ommon basic shapes' or letters are, as a matter of law, not inherently distinctive.. ., [but] stylized shapes or letters may qualify, provided the design is not commonplace but rather unique or unusual in the relevant market." 412 F.3d 373, 382 (2d Cir.2005) (citing Seabrook Foods, 568 F.2d at 1344; Permatex Co. v. Cal. Tube Prods., Inc., 175 U.S.P.Q. 764, 766 (T.T.A.B.1972)). This statement, turning on whether the symbol or design is "common," comprises, essentially, the first two Seabrook Foods factors. However, the third Seabrook Foods factor similarly asks whether a symbol or design is "common" in the sense that it is likely to be perceived by the public as ornamentation rather than a mark. See Wiley v. Am. Greetings
The district court determined that the Star Symbol was "not a plain five-pointed star" but was instead "shaded and set within a circle," rendering it "sufficient[ly] styliz[ed]" to be "more than a common geometric shape." Amazing Spaces, 665 F.Supp.2d at 737. It then proceeded to conclude that the Star Symbol "[wa]s not inherently distinctive and d[id] not act as an indicator of origin for any self-storage business, including Amazing Spaces." Id. at 738. It supported this assertion with a discussion of "[t]he ubiquitous nature of the five-pointed star set within a circle" in Texas, specifically its "use as a decoration or ornamentation on innumerable buildings, signs, roads, and products." Id. The court concluded that this ubiquity—including use of the same or a similar star design in 63 businesses and 28 other self-storage locations—"preclude[d] a finding that [the Star Symbol wa]s inherently distinctive or that it c[ould] serve as an indicator of origin for a particular business." Id.
Undoubtedly, the Star Symbol is stylized relative to an unshaded five-pointed star design not set within a circle. However, we disagree that the issue of stylization revolves around comparing a design's actual appearance to its corresponding platonic form. Instead, as discussed above, asking whether a shape is stylized is merely another way of asking whether the design is "commonplace" or "unique or unusual in the relevant market," Star Indus., 412 F.3d at 382 (citing Permatex, 175 U.S.P.Q. at 766), or whether it is "a mere refinement of a commonly-adopted and well-known form of ornamentation for a particular class of goods viewed by the public as a dress or ornamentation," Seabrook Foods, 568 F.2d at 1344.
3. Secondary Meaning
The parties disagree over whether the Star Symbol has acquired distinctiveness through secondary meaning. "Secondary meaning occurs when, in the minds of the public, the primary significance of a mark is to identify the source of the product rather than the product itself." Smack Apparel, 550 F.3d at 476 (alteration and internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Wal-Mart Stores, 529 U.S. at 211, 120 S.Ct. 1339).
Two Pesos, 505 U.S. at 766 n. 4, 112 S.Ct. 2753 (citations and quotation marks omitted); accord Smack Apparel, 550 F.3d at 476 ("A mark has acquired secondary meaning when it `has come through use to be uniquely associated with a specific source.'" (quoting Pebble Beach, 155 F.3d at 536)). "The inquiry is one of the public's mental association between the mark
In the context of trade dress, we have articulated seven factors to consider in determining whether secondary meaning has been shown:
Smack Apparel, 550 F.3d at 476 (quoting Pebble Beach, 155 F.3d at 541).
The district court considered the following evidence that Amazing Spaces claimed raise a fact issue regarding secondary meaning: (1) the Star Symbol was used for ten years; (2) Amazing Spaces had spent nearly $725,000 in advertising and promoting the Star Symbol; (3) Amazing Spaces had realized over $11.5 million in revenue since it first began using the Star Symbol; (4) Kathy Tautenhahn's statement in her declaration that the Star Symbol identifies Amazing Spaces's self-storage services; and (5) declarations of a customer and an alarm technician about confusion when seeing rival self-storage facilities (Metro and Community) that displayed symbols similar to the Star Symbol. See Amazing Spaces, 665 F.Supp.2d at 740. The district court concluded that no fact issue was raised. Id. at 742. It based this conclusion partly on the absence of survey evidence, id. at 741-42, but primarily on its determination that the remaining evidence was not probative regarding secondary meaning: the advertisements did not prominently display the Star Symbol but instead prominently featured the Peaks and Sky Symbol, and the declarations described confusion only in reference to the overall architecture of the facilities, id. at 742.
We agree with the district court that no fact issue has been raised regarding the existence of secondary meaning. As we discussed above, Amazing Spaces's use of
We also agree with the district court's assessment that the two declarations evidencing consumer confusion do not bear on the secondary meaning of the Star Symbol. Shane Flores averred that he was confused by the appearance of a Metro facility's "use of a star logo in conjunction with the similarity in the architectural features and designs" and believed it to be an Amazing Spaces facility. Glen Gilmore averred similarly with respect to a Community facility. While these instances of confusion may bear on Amazing Spaces's trade dress claims,
In conclusion, we agree with the district court's assessment that Amazing Spaces has failed to raise a fact issue regarding the existence of secondary meaning with respect to the Star Symbol. In light of the overwhelming evidence that the Star Symbol is not distinctive, we hold that it does not serve "to identify and distinguish the
4. Cancellation of the '845 Registration
At the conclusion of its brief, Metro argues that because the Star Symbol "is incapable of serving as a trademark," we should "cancel the registration pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1119." Section 37 of the Lanham Act provides that "[i]n any action involving a registered mark the court may . . . order the cancelation of registrations, in whole or in part. . . ." Lanham Act § 37, 15 U.S.C. § 1119; accord Xtreme Lashes, 576 F.3d at 232. We may not, however, order cancellation of the Star Symbol in this appeal. "[T]his circuit follows the general rule that, in the absence of a cross-appeal, an appellate court has no jurisdiction to modify a judgment so as to enlarge the rights of the appellee or diminish the rights of the appellant." Borrego Springs Bank, N.A. v. Skuna River Lumber, L.L.C., (In re Skuna River Lumber, L.L.C.), 564 F.3d 353, 356 (5th Cir.2009) (citing Morley Constr. Co. v. Md. Cas. Co., 300 U.S. 185, 57 S.Ct. 325, 81 L.Ed. 593 (1937); Kelly v. Foti, 77 F.3d 819, 822 (5th Cir.1996)). The district court's judgment dismissed Amazing Spaces's claim that Metro was infringing its trademark rights in the Star Symbol, and it denied as moot all of Metro's affirmative defenses and counterclaims—including a request that the Star Symbol's registration be cancelled. See Amazing Spaces, 665 F.Supp.2d at 742. We are dubitante that the district court's grant of summary judgment rendered the cancellation issue moot, but because Metro has not cross-appealed that judgment, we are without jurisdiction to award it further relief by ordering the '845 Registration canceled. However, as discussed below, we conclude that the district court erred in dismissing Amazing Spaces's remaining claims with prejudice, and we must remand for further proceedings. The district court is, of course, free to consider Metro's cancellation request on remand.
B. Trade Dress Claims
Having concluded that the district court correctly held that the Star Symbol is not protectable as a mark, we next address whether the district court correctly dismissed Amazing Spaces's causes of action relating to its trade dress and facility design. Amazing Spaces asserts that the following causes of action were improperly dismissed because they do not "rest entirely on whether the Star Logo is entitled to trademark protection": (1) trade dress infringement under the Lanham Act and Texas common law; (2) copyright infringement; and (3) trade dress dilution in violation of the Texas anti-dilution statute.
We "may affirm a grant of summary judgment on any appropriate ground that was raised to the district court and upon which both parties had the opportunity to introduce evidence." Conkling, 18 F.3d at 1296 n. 9 (citing cases). However, these other claims were not yet before the district court, and Amazing Spaces had not yet had the opportunity to introduce evidence relating to those claims. We therefore reverse the district court's judgment insofar as it dismissed those claims, and we remand for further proceedings. We briefly explain our decision as to each claim.
1. Trade Dress Infringement
In addition to its claim that Metro had infringed its Star Symbol service mark, Amazing Spaces also brought claims for trade dress infringement under § 43(a) of the Lanham Act and Texas common law. See Blue Bell Bio-Med. v. Cin-Bad, Inc., 864 F.2d 1253, 1256 (5th Cir. 1989) ("The Lanham Act creates a cause of
Amazing Spaces is correct that, to protect the overall appearance of its facilities as trade dress, it need not establish that the Star Symbol is legally protectable. Amazing Spaces's claimed trade dress, unlike the Star Symbol, consists of the entirety of the facilities' design, including placement of the Star Symbol under the roof peaks. See Taco Cabana Int'l, 932 F.2d at 1120 ("[T]he existence of [nondistinctive] elements does not eliminate the possibility of inherent distinctiveness in the trade dress as a whole."). The district court limited discovery to the issue of the trademarkability of the Star Symbol, and Amazing Spaces was therefore unable to present its trade dress and unfair competition claims. We therefore reverse the dismissal of those claims and remand for further proceedings.
2. Copyright Infringement
In its complaint, Amazing Spaces also alleged infringement of its "copyrights in and to the architectural and design features of Amazing Spaces'[s] storage facilities by its promotion, development, construction of storage facilities substantially similar to those of Amazing Spaces and by preparing derivative works of Amazing Spaces['s] copyrighted architectural works." "To establish a claim for copyright infringement, a plaintiff must prove that: (1) he owns a valid copyright and (2) the defendant copied constituent elements of the plaintiff's work that are original." Positive Black Talk Inc. v. Cash Money Records Inc., 394 F.3d 357, 367 (5th Cir.2004) (citing Gen. Universal Sys. v. Lee, 379 F.3d 131, 141 (5th Cir. 2004) (per curiam); Szabo v. Errisson, 68 F.3d 940, 942 (5th Cir.1995)), abrogated on other grounds by Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick, ___ U.S. ___, 130 S.Ct. 1237, 176 L.Ed.2d 17 (2010). To demonstrate the second element—copying—"a plaintiff must prove: (1) factual copying and (2) substantial similarity." Id. (citing Bridgmon v. Array Sys. Corp., 325 F.3d 572, 576 (5th Cir.2003)). None of these elements is disposed of in this case by a determination that the Star Symbol is not a valid mark. The district court did not permit discovery regarding Amazing Spaces's copyright claim, and its opinion does not address whether copyright infringement occurred. We therefore reverse and remand on this claim as well.
3. Trade Dress Dilution
Texas provides a statutory cause of action for dilution of protectable marks:
TEX. BUS. & COM.CODE ANN. § 16.29. Amazing Spaces alleged that Metro's actions had the effect of "dilut[ing] and blur[ring] the distinctiveness of Amazing Spaces'[s] distinctive service mark and trade dress and the goodwill associated therewith." While our discussion above disposes of the claim of service mark dilution, Amazing Spaces's trade dress dilution claim has not yet been addressed by the district court. We therefore reverse and remand on that aspect of Amazing Spaces's dilution cause of action as well.
The Star Symbol is not inherently distinctive, and Amazing Spaces has not raised a genuine issue of material fact regarding secondary meaning. The Star Symbol is thus not legally protectable as a mark, and we accordingly AFFIRM the district court's judgment dismissing Amazing Spaces's claim for service mark infringement. However, whether the Star Symbol is legally protectable as a mark is not dispositive of Amazing Spaces's remaining federal claims for trade dress and copyright infringement or its state claims for common law trade dress infringement and statutory trade dress dilution. We therefore REVERSE the district court's judgment insofar as it dismissed those claims, and we REMAND for further proceedings. On remand, the district court is free to consider Metro's arguments relating to cancellation of the Star Symbol's registration in the first instance.
AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, and REMANDED. Each party shall bear its own costs.
Lanham Act § 32, 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1). The Lanham Act provides a cause of action for infringement of an unregistered mark in § 43(a):
Lanham Act § 43(a)(1), 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1). Although the Lanham Act separately establishes these causes of action, "[t]he same tests apply to both trademarks and trade dress to determine whether they are protectible and whether they have been infringed, regardless of whether they are registered or unregistered." Pebble Beach, 155 F.3d at 536 (citing Two Pesos, 505 U.S. at 768-70, 773-74, 112 S.Ct. 2753; Sunbeam Prods., Inc. v. W. Bend Co., 123 F.3d 246, 251 n. 4 (5th Cir.1997), abrogated on other grounds by TrafFix Devices, 532 U.S. 23, 121 S.Ct. 1255, 149 L.Ed.2d 164).
Lanham Act § 45, 15 U.S.C. § 1127. The complete definition of a "service mark" provides:
Id. Although trademarks and service marks are separately defined, their definitions under the Lanham Act closely track each other, and the cases construing the two terms inform our analysis equally. See Union Nat'l Bank of Tex., Laredo, Tex. v. Union Nat'l Bank of Tex., Austin, Tex., 909 F.2d 839, 841 n. 2 (5th Cir.1990); RESTATEMENT (THIRD) OF UNFAIR COMPETITION § 9 cmt. f, at 82 (1995) (hereinafter "RESTATEMENT") ("The substantive rules applicable to both types of marks are fundamentally identical, however, and the term `trademark' is generally understood to include marks used in the marketing of either goods or services."); 1 McCARTHY ON TRADEMARKS § 4:14, at 4-16 ("For all practical purposes, both trademarks and service marks are subject to the same substantive rules of validity and infringement.").
LOUIS ALTMAN & MALLA POLLACK, 3 CALLMAN ON UNFAIR COMPETITION, TRADEMARKS AND MONOPOLIES § 18:24 (4th ed.2010) (footnotes omitted). Under this reasoning, nonverbal marks—even though "arbitrary"—must still be shown to serve as identifying indicia. Professor McCarthy appears to share the view that such marks are arbitrary when they are nonrepresentational. See 1 McCARTHY ON TRADEMARKS § 7:36, at 7-91 ("A picture that is merely a representation of the goods themselves is regarded as merely descriptive of the goods.").
1 McCARTHY ON TRADEMARKS § 7:29, at 7-73-74 (footnotes omitted).
Id. § 13 cmt. d, at 107. Finally, and most importantly, the Lanham Act defines "service mark" as a mark used "to identify and distinguish the services of one person . . . from the services of others and to indicate the source of the services." Lanham Act § 45, 15 U.S.C. § 1127. Because a mark must distinguish one person's services from another, we agree that our inquiry is whether the Star Symbol identifies and distinguishes Amazing Spaces's self-storage services from others' self-storage services. This does not mean, however, that we must blind ourselves to uses beyond the self-storage services industry: the fact that the same or a similar star is used in countless other ways certainly bears on whether it is "likely that prospective purchasers will perceive [a given star design] as an indication of source" within a particular industry because a "[c]ommonplace symbol[']s . . . appearance on numerous products makes it unlikely that consumers will view [it] as distinctive of the goods or services of a particular seller." RESTATEMENT § 13 cmt. d, at 107.