by James Kachmar
The Ninth Circuit recently addressed the issue of whether a “first publication” exclusion in an insurance policy applies to trademark infringement claims. In United National Insurance Company v. Spectrum Worldwide, Inc., et al., decided February 2, 2009, the Ninth Circuit resolved a split among lower courts and held that a “first publication” exclusion did apply under California law.
In December 1997, Sunset Health Products, Inc. (“Sunset”) hired Spectrum to advertise and distribute a diet drink called “Hollywood 48 Hour Miracle Diet” drink. Celebrity Products Direct, Inc. (“Celebrity”) was formed a short time later and began selling a similar product, “The Original Hollywood Celebrity Diet” drink. Spectrum then terminated its contract with Sunset and begin marketing the Celebrity diet drink. Sunset made repeated demands that Spectrum cease infringing on its Miracle Diet trademark.