12/18/2008 9:15 AM By Lindsay Bailey -Kanawha Bureau
CLARKSBURG – An Ohio high school athletic conference has filed a suit against a West Virginia man, alleging he registered several Internet domains that used the conference’s trademarked acronym to raise funds without its permission.
The Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Inc. filed the suit against Brian Gossett on Nov. 26, 2008, claiming he violated the Trademark Act of 1946.
OVAC, which was organized in 1943 and promotes and stimulates competitive high school athletes in the upper Ohio Valley, says it is the largest and most functional conference of its kind in the United States and has a total of 46 schools and 12,000 athletes.
The OVAC registered its trademark/service mark in both Ohio and West Virginia in 1993. Its official Web site is www.ovac.org.
According to the complaint, Gossett created several Web sites in August 2008 using OVAC’s official acronym such as ovacbasketball.com and ovacwrestling.org without the plaintiff’s permission. He also uses the e-mail address of firstname.lastname@example.org.
OVAC claims it discovered in mid-2008 Gossett was using a Web site, ovacsports.com, to solicit monetary donations, sell merchandise containing OVAC’s mark and create a weekly award for high school athletes using its mark. OVAC repeatedly requested Gossett to refrain from the use of its trademark name. According to the complaint, OVAC’s requests went unanswered.
OVAC complains Gossett is using OVAC’s mark to market his own products and capitalize on the goodwill and reputation of the plaintiff by making it appear OVAC is somehow endorsing him. Gossett’s use of the mark is likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception in the minds of the public.
OVAC asks for Gossett and others involved to be permanently enjoined from using the OVAC mark in any way. The conference also seeks either three times the amount of Gossett’s profits made when using their mark or three times OVAC’s losses, whichever is greater. OVAC is also asking the court to award it its attorney fees and costs.
Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld is representing the plaintiff.
U.S. District Court case number: 5:08-cv-00175-FPS