July 24, 2020

Ninth Circuit vacates Monster Energy's $5 million punitive damages award (Monster Energy v. Integrated Supply Network)

This case involves a trademark dispute between Monster Energy Drinks and a tool manufacturer that produced a line of tools using the name Monster and the same green and black color scheme used by Monster Energy.

In 2018, a federal court jury in the Central District of California ruled in favor of Monster Energy, awarding $0 in actual damages and $5 million in punitive damages.  (You can read a story about the verdict here.)

In this unpublished opinion, the Ninth Circuit reverses the punitive damages award.  The opinion explains that Monster's claim for punitive damages was based on California common law, which prohibits an award of punitive damages to a plaintiff who suffered no actual damages.  But the opinion is not all bad news for Monster Energy.  The Ninth Circuit reinstated some of Monster's claims that the district court had dismissed, including claims for violation of California's Unfair Competition Law and for disgorgement of profits under the Lanham Act.

Law 360 has a story on the decision.