Ex-Employee Picks Up Unusual Trademark Victory Against Team

Jul 3, 2009

A legal dispute between the current owners of an arena football league team and its ex-employee will continue intact after a federal judge denied the team’s motion to dismiss the counterclaims of the ex-employee.
Defendant Joe Krause had alleged in his counterclaim the Philadelphia Soul had infringed the trademark associated with his name. In ruling for Krause, the court found that he had successfully shown that his name had acquired the necessary “secondary meaning” for trademark protection under the Lanham Act.
The dispute surfaced after the Soul then terminated Krause and other staff members, alleging, among other things, that Krause infringed on its copyright and trademark by making and selling championship rings using the team’s logo.
Krause countered in state court that the Soul owed him $125,000 in unpaid commissions. He also alleged that the team violated the Lanham Act by sending out an email in his name to season ticket holders of the Philadelphia Soul, announcing the suspension.
In denying the team’s motion to dismiss, the court ruled that four of five factors that are used to determine whether an individual has prudential standing under the Lanham Act favored Krause. While recognizing that “the nature of Krause’s injury was somewhat remote from the type of injury that Congress sought to protect in the Lanham Act,” it nevertheless concluded that Krause’s pleadings justified prudential standing because the Act protects against harm to one’s commercial reputation and goodwill. Specifically, the court found that the team had “diverted some of their reputational damage to Defendant by associating him with their actions.”
AFL Philadelphia LLC v. Krause; E.D.Pa.; No. 09-614; 6/4/09
Attorneys of record: (for defendant) George Bochetto and David Heim of Bochetto & Lentz. (for plaintiff) Camille M. Miller and Melanie A. Miller of Cozen O’Connor.


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