SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Jayco filed a lawsuit against National Indoor RV Centers last month alleging violations of the Entegra trademark, documents filed with the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana show.
According to the complaint, the action was taken to stop National Indoor from illegally and without authorization using Jayco’s federally registered trademarks and for other relief.
“Jayco designs, manufactures, and sells a range of recreational vehicles in North America. In particular, Jayco designs, manufactures and sells a line of Class A motorhomes under the Entegra Coach trademark. The Entegra Coach brand represents a luxury, high-end Class A motorhome line. The Entegra Coach trademark has been registered since 2009 and is well-known in the industry,” the complaint noted.
“The Entegra Coach trademark, maintains a high profile in the RV industry, being a top seller of Class A motorhomes in North America. Jayco expends substantial time, energy, money and resources in advertising and promoting its Entegra Coach trademark, including, but not limited to operating the www.entegracoach.com web site,” it added. “Jayco also promotes the trademark in print and other media, at trade shows and within its authorized dealer network.”
However, according to the complain the Entegra Coach trademark and the business conducted under that mark have been threatened by the conduct of defendants which engage in, and continue to engage in, a deceptive scheme where it falsely advertises, markets and represents itself to customers in Texas where they are not licensed or authorized to use the Entegra Coach trademark.
“The use of the Entegra Coach mark in advertising and sales by defendants is clearly intended to deceive and confuse customers into believing that NIRV’s location in Texas is sponsored by, or affiliated or connected with Entegra Coach,” the complaint read. “Indeed, other authorized and licensed Entegra Coach dealers and consumers have complained to Jayco believing that Jayco has authorized defendants’ use of the Entegra Coach trademark in Texas.
“Defendants’ unauthorized and illegal use of the Entegra Coach mark is causing harm to Jayco and the goodwill associated with its Entegra Coach mark,” Jayco claims.
“Defendants’ actions violate federal and state law, causing and continuing to cause irreparable injury and damages to Jayco. NIRV’s actions also violate the express terms of contracts between NIRV and Jayco,” it added. “NIRV is a licensed and authorized Entegra Coach dealer in Arizona and Georgia, but they are not licensed or authorized to use the Entegra Coach trademark in Texas, or elsewhere.
According to Jayco, the continuing illegal and improper actions resulted in and continue to cause the loss of significant business and harm to the company. Therefore, Jayco seeks to end the defendants’ scheme and Jayco’s irreparable injury through a temporary, preliminary and permanent injunction to protect the Entegra Coach mark and its associated goodwill in the RV marketplace, the complaint noted.
Court documents show the suit was filed alleging violation of the Lanham Act for false advertising, trademark infringement, unfair competition, violation of Indiana trademark common law, unfair competition under Texas law and breach of contract. Jayco seeks temporary, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, monetary damages and attorneys’ fees.
“Defendants are flagrantly using Jayco’s Entegra Coach mark in a prominent fashion to market itself to customers in and outside Texas, without Jayco’s permission, which has resulted in customer confusion and damage to Jayco’s reputation and goodwill in the marketplace and its dealer network,” the complaint explains.
Jayco deploys private investigators
The complaint indicates that Entregra Coach’s dealer in the Dallas, Texas area, Motorhome Specialists, complained to Jayco that NIRV was selling Entegra Coach motorhomes from NIRV’s location in Lewisville, Texas ,which is within in the Motorhome Specialists’ assigned territory.
So, on or about May 9, a private investigator hired by Jayco visited NIRV’s Lewisville location and inquired about purchasing an Entegra Coach. Initially, an NIRV salesperson, Stephanie Lopez, told the PI that NIRV was not allowed to sell Entregra Coach motorhomes from the Texas location. Lopez told the PI that they would fly a buyer to NIRV’s locations in Georgia or Arizona to purchase an Entegra Coach.
Lopez then showed a 2017 Entegra to the investigator. Lopez told the PI that she would introduce the investigator to Angie Morell, who was a salesperson on contract, and not an employee of NIRV-Texas, so that Morell could sell an Entegra Coach to the investigator.
However, Morell’s NIRV-Texas business card shows that she is an “RV lifestyle specialist” for NIRV-Texas, the same title that Lopez has. Morell has an office and phone extension at the Lewisville location.
Lopez told the investigator that she could not technically have any Entegra Coach brochures but that Morell had “stashed some away for us,” the complaint noted. Lopez told the investigator that she would not get a commission if Morell sold him an Entegra Coach, but that Lopez would be “taken care of” by Morell, court documents show.
The complaint indicates Lopez told the investigator that she could sell an Entegra Coach, including all the paperwork involved, but that she would have to take delivery at another location. Lopez then introduced the investigator to Morell, who pulled “sample boards” of Entegra Coach interior samples out from under her desk.
Morell told the that she kept them under her desk because “she can’t keep them out,” according to the complaint. Morell offered to show the investigator an Entegra Coach that was currently on the lot in Lewisville. Morell explained that Texas had really strict dealership laws and they could buy through Lewisville, but take delivery in Georgia or Arizona, the complaint alleges.
Morell told the investigator that she would negotiate a price Entegra Coach and get approval from an NIRV manager. Morell took the investigator to a room that contained a sales board identifying current opportunities for NIRV salespeople in Lewisville, the complaint indicates.
The board showed Morell’s sales and showed at least 12 new Entegra Coach being sold by Morell, who emailed the investigator marketing materials containing the Entegra Coach trademarks.
“Defendants are engaging in this façade because it knows that it cannot use the Entegra Coach mark in Texas or legally sell from the Lewisville location,” the complaint read. “NIRV-TX’s and Morell’s uses the Entegra Coach marks to sell Entegra Coach motorhomes from Lewisville is a not-so-veiled effort to violate the Jayco dealer agreements, federal trademark law and other laws.”
In March and May, Jayco demanded that National Indoor stop selling Entegra Coach and using Jayco’s marks from Texas. NIRV said it would not stop, the complaint alleges. “Defendants will not stop this conduct unless they are enjoined by this court. Defendants’ actions have caused, and continue to cause, confusion among the Entegra Coach dealer network,” it added.
Jayco claims ‘common law’ trademark
According to court documents, Jayco has common law trademark rights in its trademarks under Indiana law. “For the reasons set forth above, Defendants have willfully infringed Jayco’s marks and caused harm to Jayco,” it explained. “Defendants have infringed Jayco’s trademarks by using them in Texas without license, authority or permission. Defendants’ actions have been deceptive as they have attempted to shield their use of the marks even though they know that it is wrong and illegal.
“The above described activities constitute illegal and unfair competition by defendants under Texas common law, which have and will cause Jayco to suffer damages, destroy Jayco’s goodwill and provide defendants an unfair advantage in the marketplace,” the complaint notes.
“NIRV-Texas is a licensed dealer under the laws of the state of Texas. NIRV-Texas knows that there are other dealers located in Texas that are licensed and authorized to sell Entegra Coach products,” the company noted. “NIRV-Texas and Morell know that what they are doing is illegal. They have attempted to cover-up what they are doing because they know it is illegal.
“Defendants’ trademark infringement and acts of unfair competition have caused and continues to cause irreparable injury to Jayco, in addition to monetary damages and injury in fact and in the form of, inter alia, lost profits, lost business opportunities, lost business value and damage to goodwill.”
Jayco is demanding a jury trail and is represented by Chicago law firm Seyfarth Shaw.