RE/MAX Wins Fight Over Name
DENVER (AP) _ RE/MAX, one of the largest real estate firms in the nation, won a restraining order in federal court Thursday barring a Cuban company from using its name in connection with real estate marketing in that country.
The order was entered in response to a complaint filed earlier this week by RE/MAX International, Inc., which claims that Inmocuba S.S. and its operator, Stephen A. Marshall, had been using the names RE/MAX Havana and RE/MAX Cuba without authorization and in violation of federal trademark laws.
Also named as a defendant is William P. Murphy, an independent regional director in the RE/MAX system, who allegedly sold company franchise rights in Cuba to Marshall in violation of U.S. embargo laws, and concealed those sales from RE/MAX International.
``We are pleased with the prompt action taken by the court,″ said Daryl Jesperson, president of RE/MAX International.
The temporary restraining order bars Marshall and Inmocuba from using the RE/MAX name in any way. Any violation of the order could result in civil or criminal sanctions.
RE/MAX International now plans to seek a similar injunction that would bar any improper use of the name until the lawsuit is completed.
Marshall told the Miami Herald in an interview last week he paid $75,000 to RE/MAX’s Caribbean subfranchiser to use the name and open five offices in Cuba. The company has been doing business for at least a year and a half.
``They thought their attorneys had found the magic agreement to get around U.S. laws,″ Marshall said, referring to RE/MAX executives. ``They knew full well I was here. Now they’ve had some sort of memory loss.″
Jesperson said his company never received any money from Marshall and learned of the Cuban firm’s existence several months ago.
``RE/MAX is not doing business in Cuba, and despite the distorted and self-serving statements attributed to Mr. Marshall in the media, has not authorized any individual or company to use the name RE/MAX in Cuba.″
A State Department official said the government is looking into the RE/MAX trademark complaints. The United States has an embargo on business with Cuba.