Spark451 Inc. v. 451 Marketing, LLC d/b/a Agency 451 (18-cv-10833).

  • May 1, 2018

South Shore Health Care ( 201cSSHC 201d) has been offering health care services under the 201cSouth Shore Health Care 201d and 201cSouth Shore Health Center 201d marks in Braintree since 1993. SSHC has had a Massachusetts state registration in the 201cSouth Shore Health Center 201d mark for 201cphysician 2019s office providing primary health care (family health care), preventative medicine and occupational health services 201d since 1993, expanded by a subsequent 2018 registration for 201cmedical services, 201d and began using the 201cSouth Shore Health Care 201d mark in 2008. SSHC filed an application for a federal registration on 201cSouth Shore Health Care 201d last month. SSHC asserts that their state and common law trademark rights are infringed by South Shore Health Systems ( 201cSSHS 201d) and South Shore Health Express ( 201cSSHE 201d). According to the complaint, SSHS was formed in 1922 under the name 201cWeymouth Hospital, 201d which was changed to 201cSouth Shore Hospital 201d in 1945. In 2016, Defendants allegedly registered the domain name and used it to promote not only the hospital, but also other parts of its organization, such as health care services such as South Shore Medical Center and South Shore NeuroSpine. In 2018, SSHE formally adopted that moniker, a change from its previous name 201cHealth Provider Services Organization of the South Shore. 201d Defendants further moved towards partnering with or purchasing Health Express Urgent Care, a business having multiple urgent and primary care clinics in the South Shore region, triggering newspaper reporting that referred to Defendants as 201cSouth Shore Health. 201d Plaintiffs allege a distinct loss of business, as well as actual confusion, resulting from these actions. While Plaintiffs acknowledge that many other health care providers have used the term 201cSouth Shore 201d in their names (e.g. South Shore Urology, South Shore Orthopedics, and South Shore Medical Center), they assert that no other entity has used the exact three-word phrase 201cSOUTH SHORE HEALTH 201d in the 25 years that they have operated under that name. Plaintiffs further allege that Defendants have 201cnever used their obscurely-registered corporate name 201d as a trademark or service mark. Plaintiffs bring claims for state, federal and common law trademark infringement, cybersquatting, and unfair competition.

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