Resort says nearby pub's sign is too similar

By Kelly Holleran | Jun 24, 2009

MARTINSBURG – A Hedgesville resort and conference center says its customers have been mistaking it for a restaurant and pub with a similar name located only three miles away.

The Woods Club, Inc. filed a federal lawsuit May 13 against Woods One Stop, LLC, 19th Hole, LLC and Brent M. Jackson.

In order for its customers to reach The Woods Club, the plaintiff says they must drive past Woods One Stop, which recently opened a restaurant and pub near the intersection of Hedgesville Road and Mountain Lake Road.

To advertise its restaurant, Woods One Stop has an exterior neon sign bearing the word "Woods" in green with stylized italic print letters, the complaint says. Rising from the first "O" to the "D" is a yellow arch and a red numeral "1" sits next to the word with "STOP" written in vertical white block letters.

The Woods Club says Woods One Stop's sign is nearly identical to its own sign.

"Defendants' use of a mark confusingly similar to THE WOODS marks in connection with similar services provided in geographical proximity to The Woods Resort is likely to cause, and has caused, confusion as to the source or origin of the Woods One Stop's services and is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive the public as to the source or sponsorship of the Woods One Stop's services and to mislead the public into believing that the Wood's One Stop's goods and services emanate from, are approved or sponsored by, or are in some way associated or connected with Plaintiff," the suit states.

The Woods Club, which has been open for more than 25 years, says it has been in business much longer than Woods One Stop and has marketed its services extensively throughout West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

In 1981, it opened a lodge, restaurant and pub – many of the same services it says Woods One Stop began to offer only recently.

"Significant moneys are spent each year in advertising THE WOODS brand through various media," the complaint says. "This extensive advertisement and promotion of THE WOODS mark, coupled with the mark's commercial success since 1981, has resulted in the mark's acquiring substantial goodwill and secondary meaning among the consuming public."

However, The Woods Club's reputation as a high-quality resort has been injured because of Wood One Stop's sign, according to the complaint.

Jackson and 19th Hole are named as defendants in the suit because they are leasing the property to The Woods One Stop.

The Woods Club is seeking a preliminary and, eventually, permanent injunction prohibiting Woods One Stop, Jackson and 19th Hole from imitating The Woods Club's signage or any of its marks, from printing materials that bear a similar mark to The Woods Club, from using colorable imitations of The Woods Club's marks, from using any false description that leads people to believe Woods One Stop is associated with The Woods Club and from engaging in unfair competition.

It is also asking the court to find Woods One Stop infringed on The Woods Club's marks, unfairly competed with The Woods Club and have diluted and infringed on The Woods Club mark.

In addition, The Woods Club is seeking unspecified treble and exemplary damages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, attorneys' fees and other relief the court deems just.

Tracey B. Eberling and Michael T. Smith of Steptoe and Johnson in Martinsburg will be representing it.

U.S. District Court case number: 3:09-CV-33

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