Skydive Arizona Inc. v. Hogue (10/22/2015)

December 21, 2015

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One holds that the statute of limitations for Lanham Act claims in Arizona is three years.

Appellee purchased a skydiving business that competed with Appellant’s similarly-named skydiving business. Appellant asserted a variety of claims against Appellee, including unfair competition and trademark infringement under Lanham Act § 43(a) and § 32, and unfair competition and intent to profit under Lanham Act § 43(d). 

The superior court held that a Lanham Act claims in Arizona has a one-year statute of limitations based on A.R.S. § 12-541(5), which applies to statutory claims. A jury found in Appellee’s favor.

The Court of Appeals held that a Lanham Act claim has a statute of limitations of three years under A.R.S. § 12-543(3), which applies to fraud claims. It explained that A.R.S. § 12-543(3) is the most analogous statute because it (i) best effectuated the federal policy at issue and (ii) contains a statute of limitations (as Arizona’s trademark statute is the most analogous but lacks a statute of limitations). The language of the Lanham Act makes clear that both fraud and intent play an important role in all Lanham Act claims. The Lanham Act is designed to protect persons engaged in commerce from fraud and deception and to eliminate deceitful practices in interstate commerce in the use of trademarks. Although the Court held that the statute of limitations was three years, it also held that Appellant suffered no prejudice because the jurors heard and considered information beyond the one-year period, and still ruled in Appellee’s favor.

Presiding Judge Howe authored the opinion; Judge Thompson and Judge Winthrop concurred.