Below are summaries of the first four IP-related lawsuits filed in the the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in 2008 (source: Justia). These lawsuits involve allegations of patent, copyright, and trademark infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, defamation, and a host of other state law claims. We begin with an interesting case involving Maryland’s business trade/company name statute.

    This lawsuit pits two Maryland entities and their owners against each other. Plaintiff Nationwide Handyman, LLC alleges ownership of the federally-registered NATIONWIDE HANDYMAN trademark, the same being registered with the State of Maryland as a corporate name. Plaintiff contends that Defendant Nationwide Handyman & Remodeling, Inc., led by principal Joe Butts, violated Maryland Code Annotated § 1-504, which states the following (source: Michie’s Legal Resources):

“An entity name must be distinguishable upon the records of the Department [of Assessments and Taxation] from:

(1) The entity name of an entity organized or authorized to transact business in the State;

(2) An entity name reserved or registered under this subtitle; and

(3) The disclosed assumed name adopted by a foreign entity authorized to transact business in this State.”

     Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant violated Maryland Code Annotated § 13-301, which defines unfair or deceptive trade practices in Maryland as “false, falsely disparaging, or misleading oral or written statement, visual description, or other representation of any kind which has the capacity, tendency, or effect of deceiving or misleading consumers.”Other allegations include violations of the Lanham Act. Plaintiff is seeking an injunction and monetary damages.

     This case highlights one advantage of registering a company name in Maryland: § 1-504 is available as a cause of action to those who register their business name. Thus, companies should register their business name in addition to registering their trademarks with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and the Maryland Secretary of State.

     Shawn Whittaker of The Law Offices of Shawn C. Whittaker PC filed the Complaint on behalf of the Plaintiff.