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Heron Development Corp. v. Vacation Tours, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida, Miami Division

June 12, 2018

HERON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, a foreign corporation, and PALACE RESORTS, S.A. de C.V., a foreign corporation, Plaintiffs,
v.
VACATION TOURS, INC., MEDIA INSIGHT GROUP, INC., ROSANNA M. MENDEZ, and GEORGE A. ALVAREZ, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          FEDERICO A. MORENO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is an intellectual property case involving alleged violations of The Lanham Act, Florida's Registration and Protection of Trademarks Act, and Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The two Plaintiffs-the owner and the exclusive licensee of certain hotel-and resort-related trademarks-contend that Defendants infringed those trademarks by registering and transacting business on domain names strikingly similar to the protected marks. Plaintiffs filed a seven-count Verified Second Amended Complaint challenging Defendants' conduct.

         Plaintiff Palace Resorts, S.A. de C.V. moves for summary judgment on its claim in Count I that Defendants' registration and use of certain domain names violated the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. See 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d). The Court finds that Palace Resorts has carried its burden of proof and is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on this claim. Accordingly, it is ADJUDGED that Palace Resorts' motion for summary judgment on Count I is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         A. Parties and Relevant Non-Parties

         1. Relevant Non-Party

         a. Palace Holding, S.A. de C.V. ("Palace Holdings")

         Palace Holdings is a Mexican corporation in the hospitality industry. It owns and operates hotels, resorts, and spas, and sells wedding, meeting, and vacation packages. Although not a party to this case, it has conducted business with Plaintiff and Defendants at various times. Defendant Vacation Tours, Inc. previously had a wholesaler relationship with Palace Holdings until Palace Holdings terminated the agreement in 2014. Palace Holdings previously licensed the trademarks at issue in this case to Heron. However, in February 2016, Palace Holdings assigned those trademarks and the licensing agreement to Palace Resorts, S.A. de C.V.

         2. Plaintiffs

         a. Palace Resorts, S.A. de C.V. ("Palace Resorts")

         Palace Resorts is a Mexican corporation in the hospitality industry. It owns and operates hotels, resorts, and spas, and sells wedding, meeting, and vacation packages. Heron currently holds the exclusive license to use, enforce, and protect certain Palace Resorts trademarks in the United States.

         b. Heron Development Corporation

         Heron is a Panamanian company with its principal place of business in Panama City, Panama. It is a wholesale commercial retailer of unsold resort inventory for resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean, including the following properties owned by Palace Resorts:

(1) Beach Palace - located in Cancun, Mexico (opened October 1985);
(2) Cozumel Palace - located in Cozumel, Mexico (opened in May 2005);
(3) Isla Mujeres Palace - located in Isla Mujeres, Mexico (opened in January 2007);
(4) Le Blanc Spa Resort - located in Cancun, Mexico (opened in August 2005);
(5) Moon Palace Gold & Spa Resort - located in Cancun, Mexico (opened January 1997);
(6) Moon Palace Jamaica Grand - located in Ocho Rios, Jamaica (opened in June 2015);
(7) Playacar Palace - located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico (opened in December 2005); and
(8) Sun Palace - located in Cancun, Mexico (opened in December 1990).

         Heron and Palace Holdings entered into an exclusive license agreement on December 5, 2015. The contract granted Heron an exclusive license to use certain trademarks owned by Palace Holdings in the United States for the purpose of marketing and promoting the eight resort properties listed above. The licensing agreement also granted Heron the exclusive right to enforce and protect the trademarks from dilution and infringement in the United States. On February 1, 2016, Palace Holdings assigned the trademarks as well as the licensing agreement with Heron to Palace Resorts.

         3. Defendants

         a. Vacation Tours, Inc. ("Vacation Store")

         Vacation Tours, Inc.-which operates as "Vacation Store of Miami" and "Vacation Store"-is a Florida Corporation with its principal place of business in Coral Gables, Florida. For a period of time, Vacation Store maintained a wholesaler relationship with Palace Holdings.

         b. Media Insight Group

         Media Insight Group, Inc. is a Florida Corporation with its principal place of business in Miami Beach, Florida. It is the registrant of forty domain names that allegedly infringe Palace Resorts' trademarks.

         c. George A. Alvarez

         George A. Alvarez is the registered agent and officer/director of Media Insight.

         d. Rosanna M. Mendez Rosanna M. Mendez is an officer/director of ...


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