Employers Council on Flexible Compensation v. Kenneth Feltman; Anthony W. Hawks; Employers Council on Flexible Compensation, LTD.
In Emplrs Council on Flexible Comp. v. Feltman, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 12688 (4th Cir. Va. June 21, 2010), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently reaffirmed a district court ruling granting attorney’s fees and an award of statutory damages to plaintiff trademark owners of Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC).
Brief history of the parties involved;
Plaintiff ECFC is a nonprofit lobbying organization working on behalf of the maintenance and expansion of private employee benefit programs that was incorporated in 1981 in the District of Columbia and in 1999 registered the website “ecfc.org”.
Defendants in the case are Kenneth Feltman, Anthony Hawks, and Employers Council on Flexible Compensation LTD. Feltman worked as ECFC’s executive director until 1997. Although not formally an employee of ECFC after 1997, Feltman continued working on behalf of the ECFC through 2007 when the working relationship soured.
Feltman and Hawks discovered that the ECFC’s corporate charter had been revoked in September of 1998 because ECFC had failed to file certain reports the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). Rather than notifying ECFC, in February 2008, Feltman and Hawks formed a for-profit corporation in the District of Columbia under the name Employers Council on Flexible Compensation, Ltd.
Feltman and Hawks also reserved with the DCRA the acronym “ecfc,” the trade name “Employers Council on Flexible Compensation,” and twenty-one variations of that name. Furthermore, in March 2008, Hawks applied to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to register the mark “Employers Council on Flexible Compensation,” as well as a design mark identical to ECFC’s “ecfc” logo. Finally, Feltman and Hawks obtained the domain name ecfc.com, (remember that the ECFC had been using ecfc.org since 1999) and used that domain name to maintain a website that was nearly identical to that of ECFC.