Non-Profit Educational Center Accuses Former Instructor of Trading on its Name.

PITTSBURG, June 4, 2009 -- Sewickley's educational center filed suit today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania accusing a former cooking instructor of trademark infringement.

The complaint filed today accuses Gaynor Grant of infringing the federally registered SWEETWATER trademark by opening and operating a cooking school and web site named Sweetwater Cooking.

The Sweetwater Center For the Arts has offered educational classes and workshops in the areas of cooking, photography, music, art, dance, language, acting, ceramics and crafts since 1974.

Ms. Grant allegedly served a a guest cooking instructor on at least five occasions at the Sweetwater Center For the Arts between 1999 and 2001.

Ms. Grant organized a cooking school in Sewickley, PA under the name Sweetwater Cooking, LLC on December 13, 2005 along with Daniel Grant. Mr. Grant registered the domain name www.sweetwatercooking.com on October 20, 2005.

In addition to offering cooking instruction, Sweetwater Cooking, LLC and its website also sell cookware and cooking-related items. Gaynor and Daniel Grant are both named as defendants in addition to Sweetwater Cooking, LLC.

According to the complaint filed by the educational center, no less than six cease and desist letters were sent to the Grants after learning of the Grants' actions.

The counts of the complaint are for trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition, cybersquatting, and trademark dilution.

The primary purpose of trademark infringement laws is to prevent consumer confusion regarding the source of goods and services. The first party to use a trademark may prohibit other parties from using a mark subsequently on connection with similar goods or services if it so resembles the original mark as to cause confusion. If the later mark is so similar, it is deemed to infringe on the prior mark. An award for trademark infringement is designed to help the original owner of the mark to remedy the confusion of consumers through additional marketing and other curative activities.

Trademark dilution laws protect the property interest in a trademark with its "uniqueness" and the good will associated therein.

Cybersquatting is prohibited under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. Cybersquatting involves registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from a trademark belonging to someone else. The maximum allowable damages under U.S. law for cybersquatting is $100,000.

An issue in the case may be whether it was reasonable for the plaintiffs to bring suit nearly four years after the defendants began operating. The equitable defense of laches can prevent a claimant from obtaining relief in the event the claimant delayed unreasonably in enforcing their rights.

The Lanham Act allows a registered trademark owner to recover the defendants' profits and any damages sustained by the plaintiff if trademark infringement is proven. 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.

Disclaimer & Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
© 2007 Brandwise Law Firm, P.C.