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Judge rules in favor of Bentley in trademark case

Massachusetts car lovers may be interested in the recent ruling of a case involving the luxury car-maker Bentley and a company that offered Bentley kits. Bentley sued the owners of Keeping It Real Auto Customizing Inc. in federal court in 2012. The car maker alleged that the owners of the company had infringed on its trademark and diluted its brand by offering kits that transformed regular sedans from other brands into Bentley look-a-likes. The judge overseeing the business litigation recently ruled in the car maker's favor.

The suit alleged that the customization shop fitted Fords and Chrysler sedans with fiberglass molds that made the cars look like Bentleys. The suit said that some of the transformed cars even had fancy car logos. Authentic Bentleys can sell for nearly $200,000 when purchased from an authorized Bentley dealer.

One of the defendants said that he simply painted the transformed cars. The other defendant claimed that he didn't base the molds on Bentley cars and that he had a disclaimer on his website that said the molds were not Bentleys. He said he has closed his business and filed for bankruptcy as a result of the litigation. The judge in the suit sided with Bentley and ordered the defendants to close their business. The car maker has asked for tens of thousands of dollars in compensation.

Trademark and copyright infringement is a real and pervasive threat to businesses. The dilution of a business's brand through lower-quality knock-offs and imitations could cost a business millions of dollars. An attorney with business litigation and intellectual property experience could help a business protect their brand by pursuing damages from those who infringe on the company's trademarks.

Source: ABC, "Judge Says 'Bentley Car Kits' Infringe on Luxury Company's Trademark", Susanna Kim, October 11, 2013

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