LOS ANGELES (CN) - A medical clinic says a mobile app launched by Dr. Phil's son and advised by the TV celebrity host poached its trademark, causing "confused customers" to flood its phone lines.
Doctors On Demand Urgent Care Medical Group sued Doctor On Demand Professionals of California, and Doctor on Demand Inc., in Federal Court.
Jay McGraw, the TV host's son, is not a defendant in this case, though the plaintiffs identify him as the defendant's "co-founder and chairman."
Plaintiff Doctors On Demand claims it has operated its urgent care clinic in Los Angeles since 2006, "under the trademark Doctors On Demand."
It claims Doctor On Demand's app team approached it for trademark permission in 2013, that it refused, but the group went ahead and did it anyway.
The lawsuit states: "In the spring of 2013, plaintiff was contacted by Scott Waterbury. Mr. Waterbury stated that he was involved with a group that intended to market an app that would permit individuals to communicate with doctors through their mobile devices. Mr. Waterbury asked for plaintiff's permission to use plaintiff's mark. He stated that, if plaintiff was unwilling to grant such permission, his group would use one of their 'different' or 'back up' names. Plaintiff informed Mr. Waterbury that they would not grant permission to use their mark, and warned Mr. Waterbury not to use their mark or any similar mark."
Nonetheless, the lawsuit continues: "(O)n or about Dec. 10, 2013, although plaintiff had expressly refused defendants' request for permission to use plaintiff's mark, defendants launched their business under the name Doctor On Demand. The 'Dr. Phil' show broadcast a segment on Doctor On Demand that day. The host of the 'Dr. Phil' show, Phil McGraw, is identified on defendants' website as one of defendants' advisers. Moreover, Mr. McGraw's son, Jay McGraw, is identified on defendants' website as defendants' co-founder and chairman."
Waterbury claimed he purchased the doctorondemand.com domain but never used it, the plaintiff says in the complaint. Recapitulating Waterbury's original pitch, the complaint states that in his original communication with plaintiff, "Among other things, Mr. Waterbury stated: 'I've learned it's best to figure out all of this stuff now and get it all worked out, and if we can't work through it, then we go in a different direction.' Many of these communications are reflected in emails between plaintiff and Mr. Waterbury."
But the defendants went ahead anyway, causing the clinic irreparable harm, according to the complaint.
Doctors On Demand claims it has received repeated calls from "confused customers" seeking medical advice since the launch of the Doctor On Demand app.
"On the very day Doctor On Demand launched, plaintiff began receiving inquiries from individuals outside California seeking medical advice. These inquiries from confused consumers and others have continued to this day," the lawsuit states.
"Plaintiff has been irreparably harmed by defendants' wrongful actions, and has been forced to file this action to vindicate its rights and protect its mark."
In an interview this month on the Huffington Post, the clinic says, Jay McGraw boasted that his app was intended to replace urgent care: "On information and belief, Jay McGraw gave an interview to the Huffington Post on or about Jan. 15, 2014 in which he stated, among other things, that defendants' service is intended to replace urgent care."
Phil McGraw is not a party to this complaint. On the same day the Doctor on Demand lawsuit was filed this week, Dr. Phil was sued by parents who claim the TV host had their teenage daughter locked up at a "private prison," where her arm was mangled in a melee with a math teacher.
Doctors On Demand seeks an injunction, restitution, and compensatory and exemplary damages.
It is represented by Peter Shimamoto with Browne George Ross.