Bogus Barter Biz Foots the Bill

     LAS VEGAS (CN) – Two companies that falsely claimed to operate the world’s largest barter exchange must pay the authentic company’s legal fees, a federal judge ruled.
     U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones approved the additional punishment for Lanham Act violations in a lawsuit filed by ITEX, which owns the world’s first and largest bartering company.
     The court “determined that this case was ‘exceptional under the Lanham Act because various statements were made with the intent to deceive or confuse consumers,'” Jones wrote in his May 7 order.
     ITEX accused Global Links and BXI Trade Exchange dba BTE Nevada of false advertising in January 2014.
     Founded in 1982, ITEX, a publicly traded corporation based in Bellevue, Wash., is a “leading marketplace for cashless” business transactions in North America and processes more than “$140 million a year in gross merchandise value,” according to its website.
     ITEX refers to the transactions as “barters.”
     In 2005 ITEX in 2005 bought Business Exchange Inc. (BXI), which was founded in 1960 and owned all BXI trademarks.
     ITEX says former BXI employee Frank Dobrucki is the director, president, secretary and treasurer of defendant Global Links, which transfers real estate assets between private companies and bought defendant BTE Nevada in 2013.
     Dobrucki and others in 2012 discovered the BXI Trade Exchange trademark had expired and bought it, ITEX says.
     After buying BTE Nevada, Global Links announced it had bought BXI Trade Exchange and called it the “original barter company,” ITEX claims.
     ITEX claims Dobrucki and others sought to pass off the newly formed company as the original BXI that ITEX bought in 2005.
     In January Judge Jones enjoined Global Links and BTE Nevada from “disseminating any additional false or misleading statements that imply BTE Nevada is in any way affiliated with, related to, or the successor-in-interest of the original BXI exchange business.”
     Jones also granted a partial summary judgment awarding attorney’s fees to ITEX.
     ITEX sought $91,983.47 in attorney’s fees and costs. Jones awarded it $56,259.22.

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