Scripps Research Institute Encounters Trademark Squatters in South Florida
The Scripps Research Institute is grappling with the unauthorized registration of their trademark with the Florida Division of Corporations. The name was registered by South Florida residents Virginia Scott of Jupiter, Florida and David Heilman of Lake Worth, Florida, according to an article in the South Florida Business Journal.
Other names allegedly improperly registered by the Lake Worth and Jupiter, Florida residents include Salomon Brothers Realty, Inc., Geico Direct, Inc, The Free Trade Area of the Americas of Miami, Inc., and Clearchannel Communications, Inc., according to the article.
After Scott and Heilman’s application with the Florida Department of State’s office for the trademark “The Scripps Research Institute” was filed, it was followed two weeks later with Douglas Bingham’s application for the same name. Bingham works in the legal department of the actual Scripps Institute in La Jolla, California.
Needless to say, Bingham’s application was rejected because of Scott and Heilman’s earlier filing, prompting the Scripps Research Institute to take legal action to safeguard the use of its name in the media. The California-based Scripp sued in Palm Beach Circuit Court, asking a judge to enter an order that the Florida Department of State be required to dissolve the earlier-filed application according to an article in the Palm Beach Post. The matter is still ongoing.
Many of the other companies whose names were filed by Heilman and cohorts, are also seeking legal action, according to the Palm Beach Post, including the FTAA Florida, Inc., whose officer Joseph P. Klock, Jr. is quoted in the South Florida Business Journal article as categorizing the action as “a low end way for people to ask for something that they aren’t entitled to.”
Trademark squatters can be liable for damages for federal trademark infringement as well as a variety of federal and state based claims including common law trademark infringement, unfair competition, and tortuous interference with business relations.
If you are contemplating registering a corporate name with the Florida Division of Corporations, you would be wise to consult with a Florida trademark attorney first to make sure there are no conflicts with previously registered trademarks.