Heathcare Provider Amerigroup Corp Clashes with Amerigroup Mortgage.

NORFOLK, May 18, 2009 -- A trademark infringement and dilution lawsuit was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia pitting healthcare providers Amerigroup Corporation against Amerigroup Mortgage Company LLC.

The Virginia Beach, VA based Amerigroup Corporation offers managed healthcare services to people throughout the country, including Florida, who receive healthcare benefits through publicly sponsored insurance programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.

Amerigroup Corporation sued the Florida mortgage company Amerigroup Mortgage, citing the confusing similarity in their respective trademarks. In addition to providing mortgage services, Amerigroup Mortgage Company allegedly offers insurance related servcies.

In the complaint, Amerigroup Corporation claims to have used the AMERIGROUP trademark continuously since 1997. Amerigroup Mortgage was organized in Florida in 2006. As a general rule, the first party to use a trademark has the superior claim of ownership and may prohibit others from using a confusingly similar mark subsequently on similar goods or services.

Amerigroup Corporation registered AMERIGROUP in connection with insurance services with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) in connection with administration of pre-paid health care plans and health care in the nature of health maintenance organizations. The USPTO places the administration of pre-paid health care plans in the same class of services with insurance and financial services.

In addition to alleging trademark infringement, Amerigroup Corporation has pled a claim of trademark dilution and unfair competition. The primary purpose of trademark infringement laws is protect consumers, even though the owner of the trademark receives any monetary judgment awarded in addition to injunctive relief. Trademark dilution laws protect the property interest in a trademark with its "uniqueness" and the good will associated therein.

The complaint asks for compensatory and punitive damages in addition to an injunction ordering Amerigroup Mortgage to cease using any variation of AMERIGROUP and the destruction of all marketing materials using AMERIGROUP to promote the services of Amerigroup Mortgage.

Pursuant to the Lanham Act, Amerigroup Corporation could recover Amerigroup Mortgage's profits and any damages sustained by the plaintiff if Amerigroup proves infringement of their registered mark. In assessing damages the court may enter judgment for any sum above the amount found as actual damages, up to three times. When a court finds a defendant intentionally counterfeited a registered trademark, the court must, unless the court finds extenuating circumstances, enter judgment for three times such profits or damages, whichever is greater, together with a reasonable attorney’s fee unless the Plaintiff elects for statutory damages up to $1,000,000 per counterfeit mark per type of goods or services sold, offered for sale, or distributed. Amerigroup Corporation could recover for their claim of trademark infringement in addition to the award for trademark infringement.

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