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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Arizona State Goes After Pornographers

PHOENIX (CN) - Arizona State University wants to shut down the operators of "hard core pornographic" websites that abuse the Sun Devil trademark - and allegedly try to lure women on and near the ASU campus to appear in them.

The Arizona Board of Regents sued four corporations and three men in Federal Court. It seeks disgorgement, an injunction and punitive damages for the "defendants' pornographic business and internet activities."

The regents claim that one defendant claimed that the porn sites "would be bringing in more than $1 million in revenue in the near future," and said he would change the name for $50,000.

On behalf of ASU, the Board of Regents claims the defendants "have registered various Sun Devil and Sun Angel-based domain names and have operated various websites, including among others, SunDevilAngels.com, SunDevilAngels.net, SunDevilCoeds.net, and SunDevilAngelsBlog.com, through which defendants market and sell hard core pornographic images and videos."

Defendant Raymond Coates lives in Mesa or Scottsdale, "just miles from ASU's main campus," according to the complaint. The regents say Coates filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in July 2008 to register the mark "Sun Devil Angels" to cover "photographs, digital photographs, images, website, online, videos, models, Sun Devil Angels, magazine, posters, calenders [sic], DVD, [and] movies."

The USPTO refused to register his trademark, "on the basis that it was likely to cause confusion with all four of ASU's registered Sun Devil Marks," the complaint states.

The regents say the content on SunDevilAngels.com and its related websites are filmed and photographed in Arizona, has featured students at ASU, and that the defendants "intentionally target women on or near ASU's campus in Tempe to appear as models on the website."

The complaint states: "In online forum posts dated in 2008 and 2009, Coates stated that the 'girls' on SunDevilAngels.com are 'hand picked right off the streets at ASU' and that he 'will only handpick them from ASU in person.'"

The regents say that people who know of SunDevilAngels.com "have made statements suggesting that they associate the website with ASU," including a poster to an online forum who asked: "So is there a porn company for Arizona State now?"

One Internet browser "commented that the name Sun Devil Angels 'seems a bit confusing,' [and] another user responded, 'SunDevilAngels makes sense to me, but maybe it's because I live 2 minutes from ASU, home of the Sun Devils' and that '[i]f he's shooting in Tempe and using college girls ... it makes perfect sense ... [a]lthough to people not from the area I can understand how confusing it could be.'"

SunDevilAngels.com also "prominently and repeatedly features the name Sun Devil Angels, using cursive lettering for Sun Devils that is remarkably similar to the cursive lettering for Sun Devils used by ASU," the lawsuit claims.

When the Collegiate Licensing Company contacted defendant Brett Townsend, the digital and technical contact for SunDevilAngels.com, on behalf of ASU, Townsend "claimed that the website available at 9 SunDevilAngels.com: had no connection with ASU and that the women on the site are not students at ASU," the regents say.

Townsend, who claimed that the website "would be bringing in more than $1 million in revenue in the near future," said the defendants "would be willing to change the name of the website if ASU paid $50,000," the complaint states.

Townsend lives in Highlands, N.J., the regents say.

Defendant Martin Slezak lives in the Slovak Republic.

Corporate defendants are Digital Dream Media, of Palm Desert, Calif., and at Townsend's address in Highlands; Millenium Vision Productions of Mesa; and Taryn It Up Entertainment, also of Townsend's address in New Jersey.

The regents seek statutory damages, treble damages, and punitive damages for trademark violations and dilution, unfair competition, false designation of origin and cybersquatting.

It also seeks and transfer of the domain names to ASU.

The regents are represented by Glenn Bacal and David Andersen of the Bacal Law Group in Scottsdale.

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