Bridge Day panel sues over domain name

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Sep 8, 2011

CHARLESTON -- The commission that is in charge of coordinating West Virginia's annual Bridge Day filed a lawsuit this week in federal court alleging that the owners of a website are infringing on its trademark rights.

Plaintiff Fayette County New River Gorge Bridge Day Commission filed the lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

The named defendants are Beckley residents David and Donna Sibray and Charles Gibson of Mount Hope.

According to the lawsuit, the defendants registered the domain name in April 2002.

However, the commission says it owns all rights, title and interest in the trademark "Bridge Day."

In 2008, the defendants were advised by letter from the commission's counsel that it objected to the registration of the domain name and requested that the defendants transfer it to the commission.

However, the defendants continued to operate the website, featuring "misleading, confusing and deceptive information," the lawsuit alleges.

The commission alleges that the defendants are infringing on its trademark rights "as to confuse and deceive the public" and are doing so "willfully and intentionally."

"Defendants have embarked upon this concerted, willful, and intentional scheme of trademark infringement that has continued to the present time, and Defendants, either individually or collectively, threaten to continue the same unless restrained by this Court," it wrote in its 15-page complaint.

In their complaint, the commission alleges six counts of wrongdoing, including violations of federal and state law.

As for relief, it is seeking a court order that temporarily and permanently enjoins the defendants from: directly or indirectly using the trademark, directly or indirectly using the domain name, attempting to pass off any product or service affiliated with the event, further infringing on the trademark and damaging the commission's business reputation, and unfairly competing with the commission.

The commission also is seeking damages for: all profits derived from the sale of the defendants' services in association with the wrongful use of the trademark; statutory damages no less than $1,000 and no more than $100,000 per domain name; all damages, including costs for corrective advertising by the plaintiff; and costs of the lawsuit.

The commission also is seeking an order requiring the defendants to destroy all materials and things in their possession or control bearing the trademark, and to transfer the domain name to it.

Kevin B. Burgess of Fayetteville law firm Hamilton, Burgess, Young & Pollard PLLC and Bruce A. Tassan of Arlington, Va., firm Tassan & Hardison are representing the commission.

Bridge Day is held on the third Saturday of each October at the famed New River Gorge Bridge. The bridge is closed to traffic that day and opened to base jumpers who parachute from the span to the ground or rappel from the bridge.

This year's Bridge Day will be held Oct. 15.

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