A Corp. d/b/a Rooter Man v. America’s Plumbing & Sewer, LLC et al. (D. Mass. 20-cv-11901).

  • June 14, 2022

A Corp. is the franchisor for “Rooter Man” plumbing franchises.  A Corp. was formed in 1982 for the purpose of selling Rooter Man franchises.  By 2019, there were about 89 franchisees operating at more than 600 locations in more than half of the states as well as in Bermuda and Canada.  It says that it has been ranked the #1 plumbing franchise by Entrepreneur Magazine for 19 consecutive years.  A Corp. obtained a number of federal and state trademark registrations related to the “Rooter Man” businesses. 

America’s Plumbing & Sewer became a franchisee in 2009 under an agreement that included minimum monthly payments and a personal guarantee by its owner.  A Corp. says that it discovered that America’s Plumbing & Sewer had registered a domain name “rooterman24-7.com, which was expressly prohibited by the franchise agreement.  When America’s Plumbing & Sewer’s owner sought to sell the business and the new buyer indicated that he could not comply with the franchise agreement, A Corp. agreed to an early termination of the franchise agreement.  A Corp. further agreed to waive the non-compete clause in the franchise agreement so that America’s Plumbing & Sewer’s owner could work for the new owner of the business, provided that the new business de-identify itself as a Rooter Man business. 

A Corp. says that the new owner did not de-identify itself and continued to use the rooterman24-7.com domain name.  Further, after A Corp. objected to continued appearances of a photograph of a van bearing the Rooter Man logo on the new businesses’ Google Ad,  the defendants simply changed the wording to read “ROOTER MANAGEMENT & REPAIR,” which still includes the use of “Rooter Man,” and which appeared in the same color scheme used by Rooter Man.  Finally, the new business is still running ads on Yahoo that bear A Corp.’s registered stylized logo.  A Corp. asserts trademark infringement, false designation of origin, dilution, cybersquatting, breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, conversion, and unjust enrichment.

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