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Bentley Wins Trademark Suit over Car Kit Makers

post Thursday October 17, 2013

Tags: trademark infringement, trademark litigation

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Luxury car maker Bentley Motors prevailed in a trademark infringement lawsuit against the makers and installers of kits that transform more modest vehicles into virtual clones of the Bentley. U.S. District Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington has ruled that Bentley car kit makers—Fugazzi Cars Inc. and Keeping It Real Auto Customizing Inc.—must shutter its doors, noting that "Bentley car kits" infringed on Bentley's trademark and patent designs.

Bentley sued defendants Matthew McEntegart, owner of St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Fugazzi Cars Inc. and Robert Frary III, owner of Keeping It Real Auto Customizing Inc., in July 2012, claiming the companies infringed on and diluted its trademarks and patent designs, and engaged in false advertising. According to Bentley, the defendants “unlawfully manufactured Bentley body kits that transform ordinary and inexpensive Chrysler and Ford vehicles into knockoff Bentley vehicles and 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". Days later, Bentley and its subsidiary in the U.S., Bentley Motor, filed a preliminary injunction to block McEntegart and Frary from making, advertising or selling their kits.

In final remarks about the ruling, the judge noted that Bentley successfully demonstrated actual consumer confusion by offering statements of consumers who noted the similarities between the car kits and actual Bentley vehicles. Having concluded that the “defendants made use of Bentley’s protected trademarks in commerce without Bentley’s consent and that such use was likely to cause confusion, the court granted Bentley's motion for summary judgment."

John McGuire, an attorney for Robert Frary, said his client only painted the cars that had car kits already on them. McEntegart also denied infringing on Bentley's trademark in his advertisements and said: "Unfortunately, it boiled down to not having enough money to fight it". But McEntegart said he hopes to stay in the car kit business with his own body designs. "It's nothing that looks like that, but it's using that as a donor for the chassis," he added.

Source: ABCNews

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