What is the proper method for U.S. litigants to obtain evidence located in a foreign country for trademark litigation in the United States? The Lanham Act authorizes trademark owners to recover profits made from the sale of goods that infringe on their trademarks. In order to account for and ultimately recover these profits, trademark owners need access to the infringers’ bank records. But access to such records can be a challenge when the infringers and their banks are located outside the United States.
In recent years, several brand owners have instituted a series of trademark infringement lawsuits in the Southern District of New York against Chinese vendors selling counterfeit goods online. This Note focuses on the conflict within the Southern District of New York over whether the Hague Convention or the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is the appropriate method for obtaining bank records from Chinese banks. At issue is the lack of transparency in the Chinese legal system, leaving the U.S. courts in need of guidance. Ultimately, this Note endorses a presumption against the Hague Convention whenever cooperation from the foreign sovereign is unclear. This Note argues that this policy will incentivize sovereign states to be more accomodating with their handling of foreign requests for evidence and any conflicting laws that might hinder such production.