Man Secures Win in ‘Lawn Managers’ Trademark Case Against Ex-Wife

Written May 27, 2020

The Eight Circuit on May 20, 2020, awarded a victory in a trademark infringement case to the owner of a Missouri lawn care company against his ex-wife’s lawn care company because her company continued using his mark after their post-divorce licensing agreement expired. Lawn Managers, Inc. v. Progressive Lawn Managers, Inc., 8th Cir., No. 18-2658, 5/20/20.

Randy Zweifel and Linda Smith co-owned “Lawn Managers” while they were married. After they divorced, Zweifel retained the rights to the trademark, but allowed Smith to launch a separate lawn care business under the same name for a period of two years.

After the two years ended, Lawn Managers sued Progressive.

Progressive argued Lawn Managers had abandoned the trademark because Zweifel granted Smith a naked license without exercising quality control over the services Progressive provided under the mark.

The Court disagreed, finding the parties’ business relationship was “sufficient to give Lawn Managers reasonable assurance of the quality of service Progressive would provide to customers.”