Lawsuit: Lower Windsor Twp. business using Penn State trademarks
A Lower Windsor Township business is fighting back against a federal trademark infringement lawsuit filed in November by Penn State University.
Penn State filed the lawsuit Nov. 27 in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg against Keystone Alternatives LLC and co-owner Mark Lauer.
The business rents recreational vehicles for Penn State football games.
The university accused Lauer and Keystone of using "PSU," "PENN STATE" and the Nittany Lion logo for advertising and promotion of the company's services, infringing on the school's trademarks.
The lawsuit also states Lauer's business is in direct competition with Penn State's tailgating operation and overnight parking accommodations.
York City-based attorney Charles Hobbs, who is representing Lauer and Keystone, said Friday the lawsuit is in the early stages.
"I don't have a crystal ball and I generally don't make predictions," Hobbs said Friday, Dec. 27. "It's a complicated area of law. They're a small business. It's tough when you got a big organization like Penn State coming after you."
Lauer, who said he runs the business with his brother Tim, declined to comment on the lawsuit Friday. Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers also declined comment Friday.
On Tuesday, Dec. 24, U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane granted Penn State a 14-day extension to respond to Hobbs' motion filed a day earlier to dismiss the trademark infringement lawsuit.
Kane said Penn State must file its brief against Keystone on or before Jan. 21.
"(Keystone is) using Penn State’s trademarks solely to capitalize on Penn State’s popularity and the goodwill associated with Penn State’s valuable trademarks," the university alleges in the lawsuit.
"As a result, Penn State brings this action for federal and state trademark infringement, unfair competition, cybersquatting and trademark dilution."
Penn State has stepped up its effort this year to protect its brand. In October, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reversed an earlier ruling and permitted the university to trademark "Happy Valley."
In its lawsuit against Keystone, Penn State said it has promoted "PSU" for more than four decades.
"(It) is famous and instantly recognizable to the consuming public of the United States and the world and became famous long before the events complained about in this complaint," the university said in its lawsuit.
In a Dec. 23 filing, Mark Lauer said the company registered the domain name in dispute, GoPSUrv.com, on April 17, 2010.
Lauer pointed out that in the nearly 10 years since it was registered, "Keystone and Penn State have been in constant communication and done a large amount of business together."
Hobbs said in the same filing he believes Penn State missed a four-year legal deadline regarding the cybersquatting claim.
Hobbs also accused Penn State officials of failing to disclose to Kane they lost a similar trademark case this past summer before the National Arbitration Forum.
According to the lawsuit, Penn State is seeking unspecified financial damages as well as $100,000 in damages for the firm's use of the website domain.