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Supreme Court Will Take Up Dewberry's $43M Trademark Dispute


Atlanta commercial real estate mogul John Dewberry has convinced the highest court in the land to reconsider whether a nearly $43M verdict against his company over a trademark infringement should stand.


The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear an appeal of the judgment over the name Dewberry in the case between Dewberry Group and Dewberry Engineers, Reuters reports.

Despite a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding of the $43M award to Dewberry Engineers last year, the Atlanta development firm founded by former Georgia Tech quarterback John Dewberry claims the court unfairly held his parent company liable for actions by its affiliates, according to Reuters.

"Allowing plaintiffs to bulldoze corporate distinctions in this manner threatens broad, harmful consequences," Dewberry Group told justices in a filing, per Reuters.

The dispute stems from an initial lawsuit filed in 2006 by Dewberry Engineers against then-named Dewberry Capital Corp., claiming that the two companies' names were similar and engaged in similar real estate practices in the same markets, creating market confusion. 

Dewberry, one of Atlanta’s most well-known commercial real estate personalities, agreed to forgo the Dewberry brand other than Dewberry Capital in a 2007 settlement with Dewberry Engineers. But in 2020, Dewberry Engineers again sued Dewberry Group for willfully violating the settlement, as it continued to use affiliate names Dewberry Living, Dewberry Office and Studio Dewberry. 

A year later, U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady sided with Dewberry Engineers, finding that the Dewberry Group "brazenly rolled out and used four separate infringing marks and sought federal trademarks for them" and "barreled ahead with its unlawful, all-encompassing rebranding" to Dewberry Group from Dewberry Capital, despite receiving three cease-and-desist letters from Dewberry Engineers and having its trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected.

Dewberry is a prolific owner of Atlanta properties, including the Peachtree Pointe office complex on Peachtree Road and The Campanile building. That property is now called The Midtowne, and the developer planned to redevelop it by adding six additional floors but hasn't moved forward on those plans in four years. In 2017, Bloomberg dubbed Dewberry the "Emperer of Empty Lots" for all the undeveloped parcels he controls in one of the hottest submarkets of Metro Atlanta.

The nearly $43M award in part constituted a disgorgement of profit that Dewberry earned since the settlement, which was needed to “make Dewberry Engineers whole for the damage already done and to make [Dewberry Group’s] misconduct unprofitable,” World Trademark Review reported in September

The Supreme Court will hear the case during its next session, beginning in October, Reuters reported.