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Eastern District Dismisses Lanham Act Claim for Lack of Standing

Plaintiff Melvin Ott sued Ingenix, Inc., in the Eastern District for listing him as a consultant in a proposal it made to the State of Montana. The State of Montana awarded Ingenix the bid — to develop fee schedules for the state — but Ingenix did not use Dr. Ott as a consultant. This, Dr. Ott argued, amounted to false association and unfair competition in violation of the Lanham Act.

Ingenix moved for summary judgment based on Dr. Ott’s alleged lack of standing to assert such a claim.

On Sept. 30, Eastern District Judge Fred Van Sickle granted the motion because the State of Montana, as the allegedly deceived entity, was not a party to the suit. Dr. Ott also admitted at oral argument that his professional identity was not the equivalent of a trademark, which is needed to make a false association claim 15 U.S. § 1125(a)(1)(A).

The court similarly rejected Dr. Ott’s reliance on Section 4 of the Restatement (Third) of Unfair Competition. Comment f to Section 4 states: “If the person falsely associated with the actor or with the actor’s goods or services is in competition with the actor, reliance on the misrepresentation by prospective purchasers may divert trade from that person to the actor. Subsequent dissatisfaction with the actor’s goods or services may also result in harm to the other’s reputation and good will.”

The court found that “Dr. Ott was not competing with Ingenix for the Montana project. To the contrary, he was willing, even eager, to help Ingenix obtain the project as long as Ingenix utilized his services. Consequently, he is not alleging a competitive injury. Nor is he alleging harm to his reputation: a point that he emphasized during oral argument. Absent either a competitive injury to his reputation, his claim does not fall within the scope of § 4 of the Restatement.”

The case cite is Ott v. Ingenix, Inc., 2008 WL 4459411, No. 07-201 (E.D. Wash. Sept. 30, 2008) (Van Sickle, J.).

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References (2)

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  • Response
    Seattle Trademark Lawyer: Eastern District (Washington) Dismisses Lanham Act Claim for Lack of Standing: Plaintiff Melvin Ott sued Ingenix, Inc., in the Eastern District for listing him as a consultant in a proposal it made to the State of Montana....
  • Response
    Michael Atkins - Seattle Trademark Lawyer - Eastern District Dismisses Lanham Act Claim for Lack of Standing

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