Playboy's $19M Infringement Award Is Appealed

Playboy's $19M Infringement Award Is Appealed
Rhett Pardon

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Several former business partners have decided to appeal a jury verdict that awarded Playboy Enterprises Inc. millions in damages after a long-running trademark and licensing dispute.

CirTran Beverage Corp. and Play Beverages LLC said yesterday that they filed a challenge of the adverse jury verdict and related orders entered in favor over Playboy Energy Drink.

The enforceable judgment in favor of Playboy Enterprises now total about $19 million.

A jury in October unanimously found that the beverage companies intentionally sold Playboy Energy Drinks under Playboy's trademarks knowing that they were counterfeit. The jury awarded Playboy $5 million in damages for infringement, along with $1.6 million in a breach-of-contract claim.

The court earlier issued a permanent injunction against the beverage companies, along with their principal, Iehab Hawatmeh.

The injunction ordered them to immediately stop manufacturing, selling, promoting and advertising Playboy Energy Drinks, as well as any other Playboy products or services.

The legal feud between the companies that were once business partners has been going on for more than five years and has worked its way through bankruptcy court, federal district courts in California and Illinois and the Chicago-area county court.

Hawatmeh said that veteran Chicago-based trial lawyer Todd C. Jacobs has been retained in the appeal, filed in Illinois' state court system.

“CirTran Beverage and Play Beverages were extremely disappointed by the outcome in the trial court,” Hawatmeh said. “However, we believe in the justice system and that our rights will ultimately be vindicated on appeal and at a retrial of this matter.”

Playboy Enterprises did not immediately respond for comment; however, in late June the company said it would continue to enforce its judgment to stop Hawatmeh's companies from “engaging in infringing and counterfeiting activities.”