Indianapolis, Indiana — Trademark lawyers for Bekins Van Lines, Inc. (“Bekins”) of Indianapolis, Indiana sued Corporate Transfer & Storage, Inc. (“Corporate Transfer”) of Ronkonkoma, New York; JLV Software of Pompano, Florida (also referred to in the complaint as “JVL Software”) and The Verderber Enterprise of Orlando, Florida (collectively, “Defendants”) alleging infringement of the trademark BEKINS which has been registered as Trademark No. 2,427,605 with the U.S. Trademark Office.
Bekins is the fourth-largest household-goods carrier in the United States. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, Bekins offers private and corporate household-goods relocation services both domestically and internationally. The United States Military is one of the company’s largest customers.
Corporate Transfer offers household moving, corporate relocation and storage services. The Verderber Enterprise specializes in providing technology innovations to entrepreneurs and corporate enterprises worldwide.
In December 1955, Bekins’ predecessors in interest were granted the registration of the stylized mark “Bekins.” The first use in commerce was noted as 1891. A second “Bekins” mark was granted to Bekins’ predecessors in interest in February 2001. The two marks were assigned to the plaintiff in this case on April 16, 2012.
The Defendants were, at one point, licensed agents of Bekins Van Lines, LLC. However, Bekins asserts, they have never been affiliated in any way with Bekins Van Lines, Inc. After Bekins Van Lines, Inc.’s acquisition of certain assets from Bekins Van Lines, LLC and Bekins Holding Corp. on April 2, 2012, Corporate Transfer was allegedly notified that it was required to cease using all of the Bekins marks immediately, as it was not an agent for the new owner of the Bekins marks.
Bekins claims that, despite this notice and three additional notices, the Defendants’ use of the Bekins marks on the Corporate Transfer website, the use of the domain name www.bekinsrelo.com and the use of the Bekins mark on social-media sites continued. Bekins also asserts that Corporate Transfer indicated that its use of the Bekins mark would be discontinued but that, in the spring of 2013, the website was reactivated. Bekins contends that, when it again demanded that the domain name be taken down and transferred to Bekins, Corporate Transfer then redirected the domain to point to a consumer-comment site which was tremendously critical of Bekins Van Lines, Inc.
Finally, Bekins asserts that Corporate Transfer continues to infringe upon the Bekins marks through the maintenance of the www.bekinsrelo.com site, the use of Bekins marks on its website at www.corporatetransfer.com and various references to the Bekins marks on social-media sites.
For its claims, Bekins lists the following:
· Count I: Federal Trademark Infringement
· Count II: Federal and State Unfair Competition/Trademark Dilution
Bekins asks for an injunction; for an award of Defendants’ profits earned from the acts claimed to be infringing; for an award of damages, including punitive damages; and for attorneys’ fees and costs.
Practice Tip: Bekins asserts that its marks have acquired strong secondary meaning as a symbol of origin among consumers and the industry as a result of many years of use. It further asserts that the marks are famous. The assertion that its marks are famous allows it to pursue the additional claim of trademark dilution under the Federal Trademark Dilution Act.