Intellectual Property Attorney

Bentley Motors Prevails In Trademark Infringement Action

As reported by ABC News, Bentley Motors Limited Corporation (“Bentley”), British manufacturer of luxury automobiles, has prevailed in its trademark infringement action against two Florida companies, Fugazzi Cars, Inc. (“Fugazzi”) and Keeping It Real Auto Customizing Inc. (“Keeping It Real”). According to Bentley, Fugazzi and Keeping It Real manufactured and sold “Bentley car kits,” which “transform ordinary and inexpensive Chrysler and Ford vehicles into knockoff Bentley vehicles,” allowing customers to attain the look of a Bentley without the six figure price tag.

In the lawsuit, Bentley argued that the defendants “intentionally misappropriated the overall appearance and shape of the Bentley GTC automobile as well as [various Bentley] trademarks . . . by incorporating them into ‘Bentley Car Kits’……..” Bentley brought suit for, inter alia, trademark infringement, counterfeiting, trademark dilution, trade dress infringement and false advertising.

The Court has now granted Bentley’s request for a permanent injunction, effectively shutting down the activities of the defendants. The Court also entered judgment for Bentley on its trademark infringement, counterfeiting and dilution claims. The parties are now awaiting the Court’s ruling on damages (Bentley seeks at least $1 million).

During the course of the litigation, the owner of Keeping It Real did little to ingratiate himself with the Court. He failed to respond to Bentley’s Motion for Summary Judgment despite a Court order to do so. He also submitted several affidavits that contradicted his prior deposition testimony without any explanation for the discrepancy, causing the Court to take the unusual step of striking them on grounds that they constituted “sham affidavits.” Moreover, despite testifying at his deposition as to his lack of involvement with the disputed “Bentley car kits,” he referred to them on Facebook, stating: “gonna flood the streets with these bad boys. . .”

This is yet another example of a recurring issue, where statements made on social media platforms are used against a party in litigation. Parties involved in litigation would be well advised to filter their Internet postings in order to avoid having such postings used against them in Court.

The case is Bentley Motors Limited Corp. v. McEntegart, 8:12-cv-1582-T-33TBM (M.D. Fla).

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