Trapshooters take aim at vendor, claim copyright infringement

Steve Gonzalez Sep. 28, 2006, 2:13pm

The Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) filed suit in federal court against Rich Dillon of Oaktown, Ind. for copyright infringement.

The ATA claims Dillon sells hats and other products marked "ATA LIFE MEMBER," without permission.

Based in Ohio, the ATA is in the process of moving its headquarters to Sparta, where a multi-million dollar shooting facility -- World Shooting & Recreational Complex -- recently opened.

According to the suit, ATA members spotted the logo on Dillon's products during a recent competition in Sparta.

Founded in 1900 as the American Trapshooting Association, the ATA later changed its name in 1923 to the Amateur Trapshooting Association.

The suit claims federal trademark infringement, unfair competition and federal dilution pursuant to the Lanham Act, and for state unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.

The ATA seeks injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys' fees and costs.

According to the complaint, from as early as Aug. 15, 1924 to the present, the ATA has owned and exercised legitimate control, and continues to own and exercise legitimate control, over nationwide use of the ATA Amateur Trapshooting Association mark, and claims as a long and continuous use of the ATA Member Mark, it has acquired valuable property rights in the mark.

"On June 18, 1963, the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO") issued a registration to the ATA for its ATA Member Mark, U.S. Reg. No. 751,450, based on use by its members to signify membership in a corporate association sponsoring and engaged in amateur trapshooting since at least as early as August 15, 1924," the complaint states.

The suit claims Dillon's unauthorized use of a similar mark is likely to falsely suggest a connection of him with the ATA.

"Consumers recognize the ATA Member Mark as pointing uniquely and unmistakably to the ATA," the complaint states.

"The fame or reputation of the ATA in, among other places, Sparta, Illinois, is such that Dillon's use of the 'ATA LIFE MEMBER' mark on his products would cause consumers to presume a connection," it also states.

The ATA claims after learning of Dillon's use of the mark, its attorneys asked him to stop using the mark. Dillon has failed to respond, the ATA claims.

"The ATA is incurring, and will continue to incur damages because of Dillon's unauthorized use of the 'ATA LIFE MEMBER' mark," the complaint states.

The ATA claims it will continue to suffer harm if Dillon is allowed to use the life member mark.

The ATA, represented by Thompson Coburn of St. Louis, is seeking all profits derived by Dillon's infringement.

The case has been assigned to District Judge J. Phil Gilbert.

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