N.D. Ga.

MARTA Sues Impersonator for Deception of Marks in Use Since 1973

Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority v. Cheshire, Civil Action No. 1:23-cv-01744-SCJ (N.D. Ga., Apr. 18, 2023)

Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) has brought suit in the Northern District under the Lanham Act to enforce its incontestable marks.

MARTA is suing an individual for fraudulent and deceptive use of its registered marks. The marks include its stylized word marks and distinctive orange, yellow, and blue banner logo. According to the Complaint, the marks have been in use since 1973, but only registered since 2016 as U.S. Trademark Registration Nos. 5,011,587 and 5,011,589, for transportation services. Complaint at 6. The marks are now incontestable.

The accusations stem from the Defendant’s commercial business, MARTA Guide, purported to “provide similar information as the official MARTA website,” which “identif[ies] neighborhoods, apartments, hotels, attractions, and stores near MARTA rail line stations.” Id. at 11, 12.  

According to the Complaint, Defendant’s business name, website, and social media handles violate MARTA’s trademarks. Further, the website and social media pages use the protected orange, yellow, and blue banner logo. In particular, MARTA accuses the Defendant of “using the MARTA Marks, and the reputation of MARTA, the MARTA services, and MARTA’s trademarks for Defendant’s own financial gain and profit, and to drive Internet traffic to Defendant’s MARTA Guide Website.” Id. at 13.  MARTA therefore accuses the Defendant of “unlawfully impersonating MARTA and otherwise creating confusion for her own profit, infringing on MARTA’s registered trademarks, falsely passing herself off as MARTA or as being associated with, affiliated with, sponsored by, and/or endorsed by MARTA when she is not, and cybersquatting.” Id. at 2.  

The Complaint alleges MARTA attempted to resolve the matter through an earlier cease and desist letter. However, Defendant “failed to respond in any manner.” Id. at 17.  

The case has been assigned to Judge Steve Jones.

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