DirecTV Sues Former Retailers for Key Word and Comparison Advertising.

LOS ANGELES, June 19, 2009 -- Satellite tv providers DirecTV, Inc. initiated a federal lawsuit against a former retailers and their employees for using variations of the DIRECTV trademarks in key word advertising to sell Dish Network.

The action brought in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California names Florida's Elephant Group Inc. and New Jersey's Saveology.com, LLC as defendants in addition to Benny Aboud, Joseph Bamira, and some individuals designated as John Does.

The complaint alleges Aboud and Bamira, through their company Elephant Group, Inc., was at one time an authorized DIRECTV retailer. On November 13, 2005, DIRECTV terminated Defendants as a DIRECTV retailer on the grounds of misuse of DIRECTV's trademarks in its advertising. Specifically, variations of the trademark DIRECTV were used in keyword advertising on the world wide web. When a prospective DirecTV customer typed in "directv" or "direct tv" into a search engine like Yahoo or Google, some of those users were directed to the defendants' web site. DIRECTV's contract with local retailers prohibits any and all advertising incorporating DirecTV trademarks not specifically authorized by DirecTV.

Since the aforementioned termination, Defendants allegedly continued to identify themselves using DIRECTV's trademarks or marks confusingly similar to those trademarks, despite the fact that they sell only Dish Networks' competing products and services. The defendants are also accused of authoring and publishing a "comparison" page on their website that purports to compare Dish Network to DIRECTV that contains numerous false and misleading statements about DIRECTV's products and services.

The defendants' activities were discovered in November, 2008. Despite DirecTV's complaints and assurances that the offending advertising would stop, DIRECTV discovered in March, 2008 that Defendants, including their agents and affiliates, were again using the DIRECTV trademarks, and variations thereon, in connection with the advertising and promotion of Dish Network ' s competing satellite broadcast programming services.

DirecTV is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for trademark infringement. trademark dilution, false designation of origin and false advertising.

DirecTV has federally registered DIRECTV and a number of stylized logos. In assessing damages of a federally registered trademark, 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.

DirecTV was launched in and now serves more than 18 million customers.

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