Phrase "Consumer Credit Counseling" Becomes Focus of Federal Lawsuit.

LOS ANGELES, May 4, 2009 -- A federal trademark infringement lawsuit was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California regarding the use of CONSUMER CREDIT COUNSELING in California.

The action was filed by Consumer Credit Counseling of Ventura County (CCCVC) , a licensee of the federally registered trademark CONSUMER CREDIT COUNSELING SERVICE owned by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Inc.

The complaint accuses the defendants of using the mark within CCCVC's territory without permission from CCCVC or the owner. The use objected to stems from advertisements in phone books for: Oxnard, Camarllo, San Jose, Ventura, Campbell, West San Fernando Valley, Los Altos, Monterey, Palo Alto, San Luis Obispo, Santa Paula, Simi Valley, Moorpark, and Thousand Oakes.

The defendants named are: Florida's American Credit Counselors, Inc. (trading as Consumer Credit Counseling), Massachusett's Consumer Credit Counseling of America (trading as Consumer Credit Counseling), Pacific Bell Telephone Company, Eric Nabydoski, and twenty individuals designated as Jon Does.

CCCVC alleges putting the mark CONSUMER CREDIT COUNSELING SERVICE into use in 1966. Of note, the certificate of registration issued by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Inc. cites a date of first use of 1964. Generally the first party to use a trademark has the superior claim of ownership and may exclude others from using a confusingly similar mark.

CCCVC successfully sued Consumer Credit Counseling of America in 2005 in the Northern District of California for infringing CONSUMER CREDIT COUNSELING SERVICE. CCCVC was awarded $27,641.44 and granted a permanent injunction prohibiting any manner infringing or contributing to or participating in the infringement of the mark. Defendants American Credit Counselors, Inc., Consumer Credit Counseling of America, and Eric Nabydoski are accused of violating this injunction.

The federal registration owned by National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Inc. has had a litigious history with a number of parties challenging the registration beginning in 1993. Trademarks that are merely descriptive of the goods or services its used in connection with typically do not qualify for a federal registration. The USPTO will, however, register a descriptive mark is it has been used continuously for more than five years and has acquired secondary meaning.

In addition to claims of trademark infringement and contempt of court, the defendants are also accused of false advertising and unfair competition.

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