U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) is pleased to announce that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia awarded $750,000 in damages and attorney’s fees to the Association as a result of its recent challenge to the deceptive advertising practices of the unaffiliated travel agency, Tarzango, LLC.
USPOULTRY is responsible for the organization and execution of the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE), in which it partners with the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and the North American Meat Institute (NAMI). As such, USPOULTRY holds the organizing contract with hotels and other service providers.
Each year, exhibitors and attendees are inundated with solicitations from unaffiliated travel agencies, housing agents and other service providers purporting to be endorsed by or otherwise affiliated with trade shows like IPPE. In 2017, Tarzango sent unsolicited emails to IPPE exhibitors and attendees representing that the solicitation was on behalf of IPPE, despite knowledge that Tarzango was in no way affiliated with IPPE or its authorized housing partner, Experient.
Industry experts estimate that room pirating and poaching scams impact 15 million bookings per year, resulting in more than $1.3 billion in diverted funds annually. This type of intentionally misleading advertising negatively affects hosts and attendees alike, resulting in lost revenue and bogus room reservations. Recognizing the growing threat from this type of marketing, the U.S. House and Senate are both considering variations of the Stop Online Booking Scams Act.
On Jan. 22, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia entered default judgment in favor of USPOULTRY, concluding that Tarzango’s use of USPOULTRY’s valid and subsisting IPPE U.S. Trademark Registrations constituted trademark infringement. The Court awarded the Association $749,797.50 in trebled damages, as well as ordered Tarzango to pay USPOULTRY’s attorneys’ fees and costs in the matter.
“We, with the full support of our partners AFIA and NAMI, asserted our rights and have protected attendees and exhibitors from Tarzango’s unfair and deceptive practices. This decision should serve as a strong warning to those service providers who seek to trade off of the strong goodwill developed in IPPE,” said John Starkey, president of USPOULTRY.
USPOULTRY and IPPE were represented by Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP in the matter. The Eversheds Sutherland team of attorneys representing USPOULTRY included Partner Ann G. Fort and Associate Walter S. Freitag.