An unfair competition suit against an Atlanta-area garage door company has taken on another dimension, with claims that purported trademark violations that were effectively halted in the physical world are now taking place via the defendant’s Internet and keyword advertising.

The claims, including unfair competition and deceptive trade practices in relation to the plaintiff’s (and its licensor’s) registered trademarks and logos, are being litigated in the Federal District Court (Northern District of Georgia), which sits in Atlanta.  A settlement agreement was entered, in which the defendant agreed not to use:

  1. “Overhead” in a trademark or trade name that also includes an Atlanta-related name;
  2. “Overhead Garage Door[s]” as a trademark or trade name;
  3. a trademark or trade name that emphasizes the word “Overhead,” “Overhead Door[s]” or “Overhead Garage Door[s]”;
  4. any Atlanta-related name along with the word “Overhead” in any domain name; and
  5. the phrases “Overhead Garage Door[s]” or “Overhead Door[s]” in any online or print advertisement, except in a purely descriptive sense.

Portion (4) concerning the domain names is fairly easy to police, but at issue now are sponsored advertisements appearing in Google results and other potential breaches of the settlement agreement that can be more clandestine.  The plaintiff submits that trademark infringement and unfair competition are recurring, and has now asked the Court for a permanent injunction to prevent the defendant’s continued use of plaintiff-related trademarks.  The motion also seeks multiple forms of monetary damages, attorneys’ fees, and disgorgement of profits.

Evidence of the complete usurpation of the world by the Internet resides in the fact that two garage door companies are fighting about trademark infringement ocurring via use of branding marks on the Web.  At what point in time did things like this stop being unfathomable?


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