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Rival Education Groups Go to War

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The nonprofit Alliance for Multilingual Multicultural Education claims the former directors of its New Mexico chapter stole its trademarks and are "attempting to 'palm off' their goods and services," going so far as to schedule an annual conference in the same city on the same date.

The alliance claims the defendants Jorge Garcia, Paul Martinez, David Briseno and Elena Izquierdo allowed the New Mexico's Alliance chapter to dissolve after they withdrew as board members, then surreptitiously reinstated the chapter and "secretly registered the confusingly similar domain name and subsequently posted an Internet website at that address claiming to be AMME."

Adding insult to injury, the alliance claims the defendants' website "disparages plaintiffs by claiming that AMME's identity was stolen by plaintiffs, including AMME's President, Dr. [Barbara] Flores." Briseno and Martinez also tried to rescind their resignations and unilaterally reinstate themselves as members of New Mexico's AMME board, according to the federal complaint.

The alliance says the defendants advertised their 2011 AMME Conference on the website, "in direct competition with plaintiff's 2011 AMME Conference - to be held in the same city and on the same dates. Defendant's website advertises online registration for participants and lists several collaborating or co-sponsoring organizations that are, or were, collaborators or co-sponsors of plaintiff's own 2011 AMME Conference."

And, the alliance says, Briseno, Martinez, Garcia and Izquierdo have tried to collect the alliance's grant money, redirected revenue from the alliance's conference to themselves, and even contacted the hotel hosting the Alliance's 2011 AMME Conference and disparaged Barbara Flores, who is a plaintiff.

The alliance seeks a court order directing the defendants to stop representing themselves as offering the same charitable services as AMME and to stop using AMME's trademarks. It also seeks punitive, compensatory and treble damages for a host of claims, including trademark infringement, cyberpiracy, fraud, defamation, trade libel, tortious interference, false advertising, and unjust enrichment. The alliance is represented by David Morales of San Jose

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