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Hanover Star Milling Company v. Metcalf

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Allen & Wheeler Company sued Hanover Star Milling Company for using the Tea Rose Mark to sell flour in Alabama that Allen & Wheeler Company used to sell flour outside of Alabama.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A party may use a mark in one geographic area that was used in another geographic area by another party.

    Facts.

    Hanover Star Milling Company (Hanover) began selling flour using the Tea Rose mark in Alabama. Allen & Wheeler Company had been using the Tea Rose mark to sell flour outside of Alabama. Allen & Wheeler Company sued Hanover for trademark-infringement. Although neither party registered the mark, the district court enjoined Hanover from using the Tea Rose mark. The circuit court reversed.

    Issue.

    Whether a party may use a mark in one geographic area that was used in another geographic area by another party?

    Held.

    Yes. Hanover does not unfairly benefit from Allen & Wheeler’s name because Allen & Wheeler did not use the mark in Alabama or surrounding states. The judgment of the circuit court is affirmed.

    Concurrence.

    (Holmes, J.) It is up to the state to determine issues of Trademarks if the cases do not involve issues of interstate commerce.

    Discussion.

    When two parties are competing in the same market with the same name, the first user of the mark is the rightful user.


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