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GNC Franchising LLC v. Sala

March 13, 2006

GNC FRANCHISING LLC AND GENERAL NUTRITION CORPORATION, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NESTOR SALA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge

ADDITIONAL FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW REGARDING MOTION TO DISMISS FOR WANT OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION OR CHANGE OF VENUE AND MOTION FOR TRANSFER FOR FORUM NON CONVENIENS

On March 10, 2006, this Court filed a Memorandum Opinion in Support of its Order of March 9, 2006 denying defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and improper venue, or to transfer venue for forum non conveniens. These additional findings of fact and conclusions of law supplement that memorandum opinion.

I. FINDINGS OF FACT

A. Parties

1. GNC is a Pennsylvania limited liability company with its principal place of business at 300 Sixth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222.

2. General Nutrition Corporation is a Pennsylvania corporation with a principal place of business at 300 Sixth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222.

3. GNC, as the result of the expenditure of time, skill, effort and money, has developed and owns a unique and comprehensive system relating to the opening and operation of retail nutrition, health and/or fitness stores ("General Nutrition Centers") which sell, among other things, vitamin and mineral supplements, sports nutrition products, herbs, health foods, cosmetics and miscellaneous health care products, diet products, sports accessories, fitness products and specialty workout apparel and which are staffed by employees dedicated exclusively to serving customers for these products and services ("the System").

4. GNC identifies the System by means of certain trademarks, trade names, service marks, logos, emblems and other indicia of origin, including, but not limited to the GNC(r), GENERAL NUTRITION CENTER(r), and GNC LIVE WELL(r) marks, and such other names, service marks, and trademarks as are designated by GNC for use in the System ("the Proprietary Marks").

5. GNC awards franchises to carefully screened and qualified individuals and/or business entities to operate GNC General Nutrition Center(r) stores on a nationwide basis and pursuant to the terms of a comprehensive franchise agreement.

6. Defendant Nestor Sala ("Defendant Franchisee") is an adult individual currently residing at 2934 Capital Park Drive, Tallahassee, Florida 32301.

B. Contractual Relationship in General

7. On December 4, 1997, Defendant Franchisee executed a franchise agreement with GNC to operate a store located in the San Pablo Family Center in Jacksonville, Florida (the "Franchise Agreement"). By addendum dated March 27, 1998, the location of Defendant's store was changed to the Bradfordville Shopping Center in Tallahassee, Florida (the "Tallahassee Store"). On September 8, 1998, Defendant Franchisee executed a sublease with General Nutrition Corporation with respect to the Tallahassee Store.

8. The Franchise Agreement provides, with respect to the Proprietary Marks, inter alia, that:

Franchisee expressly understands and acknowledges that: As between the parties hereto, [GNC] has the exclusive right and interest in and to the Proprietary Marks and the goodwill associated with and symbolized by them.

Franchisee's use of the Proprietary Marks pursuant to this Agreement does not give Franchisee any ownership interest or other interest in or to the Proprietary Marks, and all goodwill arising from Franchisee's use of the Proprietary Marks in its franchised operation under the System shall inure solely and exclusively to [GNC's] benefit, and upon expiration or termination of this Agreement and the license herein granted, no monetary amount shall be assigned as attributable to any goodwill associated with Franchisee's use of the System or the Proprietary Marks.

9. The Franchise Agreement provides that Defendant Franchisee shall refrain from engaging in any act injurious or prejudicial to the goodwill associated ...


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