CrazyDog t-shirts

A Rochester-based T-shirt company was awarded default judgment against a rival that allegedly hijacked Amazon.com listings and falsely implied that the two companies’ shirts were linked.

But Western District Judge Frank Geraci denied Crazy Dog T-Shirts‘ request for default against Design Factory Tees‘ corporate officer, Tony Rallis.

Geraci said a corporate officer may only be held personally liable for trademark infringement and unfair competition “if that officer is a ‘moving, active, conscious force behind the corporation’s infringement.’” That wasn’t shown regarding Rallis, he said.

Crazy Dog had moved for judgment against the Maryland-based Design Factory Tees and Rallis on its false designation of origin claim, part of its 2015 action alleging trademark infringement and unfair competition.

Geraci, ruling Wednesday in Crazy Dog T-Shirts v. Design Factory Tees, 15-cv-6740, said the defendants were properly served but did not respond to the complaint. The “court’s role is to determine whether the facts alleged … are sufficient to state a claim for relief,” he said.

Default judgment was warranted, he said, because the allegations, accepted as true, demonstrate “that Design Factory Tees’s … hijacking plaintiff’s listings on Amazon.com and falsely implying to customers that shirts … originate from or are authorized by plaintiff—constitute false designation of origin and are likely to cause confusion.”

Donald O’Brien Jr., a Woods Oviatt Gilman partner, represented Crazy Dog.

“It’s premature to determine whether or not the failure to get a judgment against the principal is going to affect my client’s interest,” he said, “but I’m pleased we did get a judgment against the company, because we believe they did violate the law.”

The docket listed no lawyer for Design Factory Tees or Rallis, who could not be reached. Jim Dunel, an office manager for Design Factory Tees, declined to comment Thursday.