Business & Financial Consultantcy Changes Name and Lands in Federal Court.

MIAMI, July 28, 2009 -- A Miami-based business and financial company changed its name to Assurant Consulting, LLC only to be sued in federal court Assurant, Inc., with the company and its owner names as defendants.

Jason R. Fernandez use to operate his business and financial consulting firm under the moniker of Jason R. Fernandez, LLC until he changed the company's name to Assurant Consulting, LLC on February 20, 2009. Now he and his company are named a defendants in a lawsuit for trademark infringement, trademark dilutions, unfair competition, and cybersquatting in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The suit was brought by Assurant, Inc., which owns a number of registrations for service mark ASSURANT used in connection with its business management and consulting services aimed at the financial services industry,

Trademark infringement laws exist to protect consumers by trying to prevent confusion regarding the source of goods and services. As a general rule, the first party to use a trademark may prohibit other parties from using a mark subsequently in connection with similar goods or services if it so resembles the original mark as to cause confusion. The trademarks do not have to be identical, but similar enough that they are likely to cause confusion. When the later mark is so similar, it is deemed to infringe on the prior mark.

Assurant, Inc. claims to have first used the ASSURANT trademark in 1999.

The complaint also contains a count of trademark dilution. A trademark for trademark dilution allows the owner of a trademark to recover for damage to their trademark's ability to uniquely idenitfy them as the source for goods/services and. in some cases, harming the goodwill nurtured in a trademark.

Apparently, Mr. Fernandez and his company have registered and used the domain name www.assurantconsulting.com to promote their services, which forms the basis for Assurant Inc.'s claim of cybersquatting.

Cybersquatting involves registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from a trademark belonging to someone else and is prohibited by the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. The maximum allowable damages under this law is $100,000 per domain. The Act also allows a trademark owner to gain ownership of a domain that infringes a trademark.

If Assurant, Inc. is successful in establishing trademark infringement. they could recover the profits of the defendants and any damages sustained by Assurant, Inc. under the Lanham act. In assessing damages the court may enter judgment for any sum above the amount found as actual damages, up to three times. If the Miami court finds the defendants intentionally infringed the mark ASSURANT, 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 Assurant Inc. elects for statutory damages up to $1,000,000 per counterfeit mark per type of goods or services sold, offered for sale, or distributed.

Any damages awarded for trademark dilution, cybersquatting and unfair competition will be in addition to the damages awarded for trademark infringement. Assurant Inc. is also seeking a injunction prohibiting further use of the mark ASSURANT, the confiscation and destruction of Assurant Consulting marketing materials, and an order requiring the transfer of www.assurantconsulting.com to Assurant, Inc.

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