Car Dealer Feud Isn’t Going Anywhere Yet

     WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CN) – A computer expert cannot dismiss claims that it infringed the trademarks of an internationally known classic car dealer after a deal fell through, a federal judge ruled Friday.
     Dan Pronman and Gary Pronman, the co-founders of Movie Star Musclecars, say they use their corporate website www.moviestarmusclecars.com to display unique photographs of the classic cars that they buy, restore and sell on their.
     They also allegedly use the service marks GPmusclecars and DPmusclecars.
     In a federal complaint, the Pronmans described a failed deal with computer software engineer and computer technology expert Brian Styles, whom they describe as a direct competitor.
     Styles allegedly entered a contract with the Pronmans to by a vehicle for $84,000. The Pronmans say they withheld the car because Styles broke the contract, and that Styles then demanded $255,000.
     When the Pronmans refused, Styles allegedly began a smear campaign of Internet defamation and harassment.
     The Pronmans said Styles bought www.garypronman.com, www.moviestarsmusclecars.com and other domain names. Visitors to these pages are allegedly redirected to Styles’ other 300 to 800 websites.
     The websites expose visitors to misinformation about the Pronmans and recommends competing car dealers, according to the complaint.
     Styles also allegedly used the Pronmans’ photos on his sites without permission.
     Though Styles slammed the complaint as a “shotgun pleading” in a motion to dismiss, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra disagreed last week.
     “The court begins by noting that this complaint does not constitute a shotgun pleading,” Marra wrote. “Here, it is clear from the complaint that plaintiffs are accusing defendant of violating various intellectual property rights with respect to plaintiffs’ photographs and websites. In other words, both the court and defendant can ascertain from the complaint how plaintiffs were allegedly wronged by defendant, what legal theories Plaintiffs are pursuing and how the factual assertions play into those legal theories. As such, this is not a shotgun pleading and defendant’s motion to strike on this basis is denied.”
     The complaint also otherwise survives the other challenges Styles raised, the court found.
     “Nor will the court dismiss the complaint on the basis of unclean hands or laches,” Marra wrote. “These are affirmative defenses that may be raised by defendant in his answer.”

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