Bill Nye Productions, Inc. has filed a counterfeiting and trademark infringement lawsuit against domain names associated with interactive websites that import and sell counterfeit Bill Nye merchandise. The organization also filed a temporary restraining order.
William Stafford Nye, known by his moniker Bill Nye the Science Guy, is a mechanical engineer, television personality and CEO of the Planetary Society, a non-profit space advocacy organization. Bill Nye Productions oversees the licensing, marketing and sale of the Bill Nye brand, which is featured on various clothing items and books.
The plaintiff claims ownership of the registered trademarks for “The Science Guy” and common law trademark rights and argues that it has incurred costs in efforts to produce and display the marks that are widely recognized around the world.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants operate a large number of online stores, designed to appear as though they sell genuine Bill Nye Productions products, although they are in fact cheaply made counterfeits. The suit accuses e-commerce sites as selling unlicensed and unauthorized products, amounting to trademark infringement.
In the complaint, the plaintiff claims that these websites have tens of millions of visits annually, generating more than $135 billion in online sales each year. The suit also states that the defendants have used social media spamming and search engine optimization to trick consumers into believing they were buying authorized products. The defendants also allegedly conceal their identities and the magnitude of their counterfeiting operations to escape liability.
The complaint alleges counterfeiting, trademark infringement and false designation origin under Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. It asks for a permanent injunction, statutory damages and legal costs, as well as a surrendering of profits. Bill Nye Productions also filed for a temporary restraining order, injunction and other legal measures against the infringing e-commerce websites.