Cap and Gown Competitor Website Too Close for Copyright Comfort
Graduation Solutions, LLC v. Acadima, LLC, 17-cv-01342 (D. Conn)
By Casey Mock
A provider of academic regalia, Graduation Solutions, has filed a complaint alleging copyright and trade dress infringement by a competitor for using a very similar website format and product presentations. Among the evidence of intentional copying is the verbatim lifting of language from the Graduation Solutions website, including a spelling error in the offering of a service. Further language and styles appearing to have been replicated are presented in which Graduation Solutions claims to indicate intentional copying and making unauthorized derivative works, such as minor rearranging of words so that the websites are not exactly the same.
The use of another’s intellectual property in this manner has consequences that can greatly affect the original website owner. The complain alleges that Acadima, the competitor, “purposefully intended to divert customers from [Graduation Solutions]’s website, unfairly poach sales . . . and trade upon [Graduation Solutions] goodwill.” Acadima also purchased the Google Adwords “graduation source” to divert customers to their website. Graduation Solutions alleges that actual and potential customers have relied upon intentional confusion that has impacted their business.
Graduation Solutions also alleges false advertising. The Acadima website recites: “WE OUTFIT OVER 500,000 GRADUATES A YEAR.” This number is identical to that recited on Graduation Solution’s website. Therefore, Graduation Solution alleges that the number is either literally false or is deceptive such that customers are confused as to Acadima’s experience and influence on the market.
Graduation Solutions is seeking an award of actual damages and an profits that Acadima that are attributable to the infringement damages. Among other damages, they also seek an injunction to compel Acadima to take down their website and any infringing material.