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Consultancy Says Tech Firm Stole Trademarks

(CN) - A California-based employment services firm used its relationship with a mutual client to gain access to another firms trademarks, which it has since been exploiting for its own benefit, the aggrieved company claims in court.

The plaintiff, Adams Keegan, Inc., is a Memphis, Tenn.-based firm specializing in providing a range of employment and administrative services to hundreds of businesses, including payroll, employee benefits, workers' compensation, human resources management and regulatory compliance guidance.

In furthering its business, Adams Keegan says it offers "a web-based self-service application for managers and employees via a secure, proprietary human resources management system, marketed under the name Efficenter."

The company says it holds a federal copyright for the HTML code for the login page for this system.

In a complaint filed in Memphis Federal Court on March 4, Adams Keegan claims Protiviti Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif.-based risk analyst and consultancy, conducted an audit for a mutual client and thereafter began to use its trademarks and the EFFICENTER trademarks "without authorization, permission, or consent from Adams Keegan," the complaint says.

"Adams Keegan diverted significant resources to immediately begin working to eradicate the threat, including Adams Keegan's senior management. The resources that Adams Keegan diverted cost Adams Kegan extensive direct labor losses attributable to Protiviti's Phishing Email and fake website."

Adams Keegan is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief on claims of trademark infringement, unfair competition, violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, and violation of the Georgia Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Adam Baldridge of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz in Memphis represents the plaintiff. Baldridge did not return Courthouse News' call for comment.

Protiviti spokeswoman Kathy Keller declined to comment on the case.

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