Academic Advertising Seeks to Protect “Community College Jobs” as Trademark

by Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP
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On April 15, 2014, Academic Advertising, LLC (“Academic”), a Georgia based limited liability company, brought suit against Jobelephant.com, Inc., and Michael Ang (“Jobelephant”), of San Diego, California, for trademark infringement, cybersquatting, cyber piracy, and unfair competition under the Lanham Act.

The complaint alleges Academic’s continuous operation of the website, www.CommunityCollegeJobs.com since June 30, 2009, and use of the trademark COMMUNITY COLLEGE JOBS.  Since that date more than 60,000 jobseekers opened accounts on the website.  In the middle of 2009, Academic began using the trademark CCJOBS and set up the user name @CCJobs with Twitter during that same year.  According to the complaint, the public referred to Academic’s placement and job listing services as CCJOBS, and beginning in 2011 the website accounts were referred to as “My CC Jobs” accounts.
The complaint alleges that Academic investigated the availability of CCJobs.com in January 2011 and discovered that the site was owned by a third party.
The defendants worked as sales representatives and agents for Academic beginning in 2011without a written contract.  Jobelephant submitted job postings to Academic by email, which were reviewed and posted on the company’s website.  In late 2011, Jobelephant expressed an interest in purchasing the CommunityCollegeJobs.com website, but Academic was not agreeable.  Interest was again expressed in September 2012 and again rebuffed.  According to the complaint, Jobelephant through its relationship with Academic knew of Academic’s interest in the CCJobs.com website.  Pictured below is Academic’s website offering community college placements.

On March 25, 2014, Jobelephant purchased the website CCJobs.com.  Jobelephant began using the website on March 25 and also began using the name “College Community Jobs” on the website.  Academic alleges that by reversing “College” and “Community” from the Academic mark, Jobelephant demonstrates actual knowledge that CCJobs.com would cause confusion with Academic’s website.  Jobelephant has also started Facebook and LinkedIn pages as CCJobs.  Pictured below is the Jobelephant website.

Academic seeks an injunction, an accounting, compensatory damages, enhanced damages, statutory damages (for bad faith registration of the infringing domain name), delivery of advertising materials for destruction, a 30-day report on compliance with any granted injunction, and attorney's fees.  Academic asserts six counts, including federal trademark infringement under 15 U.S.C. § 1114, cybersquatting under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d), federal unfair competition under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a), unfair competition and deceptive trade practices under O.C.G.A. § 10-1-372(a)(2) and 372(a)(3), unfair business practices under O.C.G.A. § 10-1-393, and common law infringement and unfair competition.
The case is Academic Advertising, LLC v. Jobelephant.com, Inc., and Michael Ang, No. 1:14-cv-01115-AT, filed 04/15/14 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, and has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg.
 

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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