December 18, 2007 — The United States District Court in Nashville issued its opinion December 12 in the long-standing lawsuit between the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitor’s Association (TWHBEA) and the National Walking Horse Association (NWHA). Judgment was entered in favor of the National Walking Horse Association (NWHA) on the claims of trademark infringement, unfair competition, trademark dilution and intentional interference with business relations. The court found each of these four claims were without merit and dismissed them in their entirety.
TWHBEA’s remaining claim of copyright infringement was decided by Summary Judgment in January 2007, when the court held that TWHBEA’s registry, registry certificates and registration numbers are protected by copyright. NWHA admitted use of the certificates to obtain pedigree information. For this infringement, the court assessed statutory damages against NWHA in the amount of $31,000 and enjoined NWHA from soliciting or referring to the “TWHBEA Registry,” “TWHBEA Certificates” or “TWHBEA Registration Numbers” through any applications or websites.
This ruling does not prohibit NWHA from using pedigree information nor does it negatively impact the NWHA Tracking Registry. The Court ruled that NWHA is not enjoined from requesting pedigree information from a horse owner. The court was emphatically plain in stating the injunction does not extend to facts of a horse’s pedigree, name, markings or color. A horse owner may provide and NWHA may request pedigree information. This ensures owners’ rights to use their own horses pedigree, name, color or markings.
The court’s memorandum, in its entirety, is posted on the NWHA website.