JK Harris Taxed by Shady Online Advertising Infringing its Trademarks.

CHARLESTON, June 11, 2009 -- As-seen-on-tv tax representation company JK Harris & Co. LLC instituted legal proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina in response to a direct competitor's online advertising.

In addition to advertising on television, JK Harris & Co. also places ads with search engines offering their services for representing parties before the IRS on tax related issues in addition financial services.

According to the complaint, JK Harris found an advertisement on the MSN search engine web page on December 8, 2008 that included text stating "JK Harris- A Scam? Don't Talk to the IRS, Let The Tax Masters Represent you- 100% Free" and displaying the domain name www.-taxmasters.com. JK Harris refers to itself in its television ads as "the tax masters." Users who clicked on the ad were allegedly redirected to a company called 411 Tax Relief operating a web site at www.411taxrelief.com. The www.-taxmasters.com web domain was registered anonymously via a company called Domains By Proxy, Inc. The offending ad was removed from MSN after JK Harris submitted a complaint.

Later on January 10, 2009, a client informed JK Harris of performing a key word search for "JK Harris" and "JK Harris and Company" and finding an ad containing "J Harris–Is it a Scam? The Inconvenient Truth About J Kay Harris-- Read This First www-taxmasters.com/jkharris." The site referred to was purported to have been created by a dissatisfied J.K. Harris customer by the name of C. Travis Hess. The allegedly contained the following: "Are You Considering J.K. Harris For Purposes Of Settling Your IRS Issue For Pennies On The Dollar? Before You Call J.K. Harris, See What Other Consumers Are Saying About Their Service...And Make The Right Decision For You And Your Family." The site then allegedly contained an account of his experience with J.K. Harris.

J.K. Harris states in its complaint that it has never had a client by the name of C. Travis Hess and alleges the site and its creator are fabrications perpetrated to divert customers from J.K. Harris to a competitor trading as the Tax Defenders Network which is run by the party or parties responsible for the earlier MSN ads.

Google removed the advertisement after J.K. Harris complained. Then on February 11, 2009 J.K. Harris found another sponsored advertisement using Google which was substantially the same as the January 10th ad. Again, J.K. Harris complained to Google who promptly removed it.

On March 3rd and March 20th, 2009 more sponsored ads were found after performing a keyword search for "JK Harris" on Google. The ad, once again, was substantially the same eccept it directed users to www.jkharrisreview.com/jkharris/. This domain name was registered via Domains By Proxy like the previous site.

The records maintained by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) indicate that the trademarks JK HARRIS and JK HARRIS AND COMPANY are registered in connection with financial services and as such has prevent subsequent users from using the marks in connection with competing services.

Named as defendants are a party deemed a John Doe, Domains By Proxy

The complain contains claims based on trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition, false designation of origin, cybersquatting, false advertising, unfair trade practices under South Carolina law, trade disparagement, defamation, and intentional interference with contractual relations. J.K. Harris & Company, LLC is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in addition an injunction to take ownership of the offending sites and barring future domain registrations containing variations of J.K. Harris' trademarks.

When a court finds a defendant intentionally infringed a registered trademark, the court must under the Lanham Act, enter judgment for three times the greater of the counterfeiters' profits or the plaintiff's damages 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.

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