By Jasmin Jackson · Listen to article
Law360 (March 16, 2022, 7:00 PM EDT) -- A Georgia federal judge awarded counsel for entertainment platform WorldStarHipHop more than $95,000 in fees and expenses on Tuesday for helping the business obtain a $1.2 million default judgment in a trademark infringement suit over the use of its name and likeness.
U.S. District Judge J. P. Boulee said in the ruling that itemized billing records provided by Thomas Horstemeyer LLP and Johnson & Johnson LLP, counsel for WorldStarHipHop owner LO 337 IP Holding LLC, had amply demonstrated why the firms should receive a total of $95,416 for time spent guiding the outlet's trademark infringement suit over the use of its logo and images.
The entertainment platform was awarded a default judgment of more than $1 million in April 2021 after the owner of WorldStar Hit Radio LLC, John Williams, failed to respond to claims that he used WorldStarHipHop's branding without authorization.
Judge Boulee said in the Wednesday order that counsel for the entertainment outlet made 27 attempts to serve Williams, adding that the effort boosted the case above the fee benchmark for exceptionality.
"The Court has carefully reviewed the billing records and finds that the hours billed are reasonable," Judge Boulee said.
Cynthia J. Lee of Thomas Horstemeyer LLP, counsel for WorldStarHipHop, told Law360 on Wednesday that she and her colleagues "are hopeful this decision will send a message to others who may wish to ride on the success of the famous brands that there can be serious consequences for such infringements."
WorldStarHipHop sued Williams and four of his entities — which also included Worldstar Marketing Agency LLC, J Entertainment Productions LLC and J Entertainment Atl LLC — in May 2019, arguing that Williams was ripping off its "well-known" brand name mark, which was issued by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office in 2013.
WorldStarHipHop claimed that Williams pretended to be a silent partner in the entertainment outlet and sold counterfeit products with the brand's mark. It accused Williams of registering domain names for his entities that wrongfully indicated an association with WorldStarHipHop.
The media outlet urged Judge Boulee to grant it a default judgment in December 2019 after Williams had attempted to dodge the suit for over half a year.
Judge Boulee obliged during an April 2021 hearing and awarded WorldStarHipHop $750,000 in damages for the trademark infringement, $150,000 for Williams' use of similar website names and $100,000 for doing so willfully.
WorldStarHipHop's counsel pursued $89,957 attorneys' fees and $7,328 worth of expenses in October 2021.
In Judge Boulee's Wednesday order, he granted the request in full and also agreed to issue a permanent injunction against Williams.
Douglas L. Johnson of Johnson & Johnson LLP, counsel for WorldStarHipHop, told Law360 on Wednesday that the firms are "pleased that WorldStar obtained this unmitigated victory today."
WorldStarHipHop is represented by Andrea P. Nguyen and Cynthia J. Lee of Thomas Horstemeyer LLP and Douglas L. Johnson of Johnson & Johnson LLP.
Counsel information for the defendants was not immediately available on Wednesday.
The suit is LO 337 IP Holding LLC v. Williams et al., case number 1:19-cv-01993, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.