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Judge awards $1M in Naugatuck trademark dispute

BY Natalie Missakian

1/12/2018
A federal judge this week ordered a Naugatuck laundry equipment company to pay its former German parent more than $1 million in attorney fees and other costs for repeatedly violating its trademark.

Germany-based Lavatec GmbH, which manufactures commercial laundry equipment, successfully sued its former subsidiary in 2013, arguing the company, now known as Voss Laundry Solutions, continued to use the Lavatec name after the two firms separated in 2009.

Despite a judge's 2014 order to stop using the name in its business dealings, Voss continued to violate the trademark, "each time feigning mistake and/or lack of understanding of the plain language of the court's orders," according to Lavatec's attorney, David Slossberg.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport found Voss in contempt of court, ordering it to pay more than $1 million in attorney fees, costs and penalties.

In his ruling, Underhill said Voss "demonstrated at the very least a lackadaisical attitude towards its duty to comply with the injunction, despite repeated warnings" and engaged in "frivolous" attempts to challenge the order, "wasting judicial resources and driving up [Lavatec's] costs and attorneys fees."

Federal trademark law allows companies to recover attorneys fees and costs in "exceptional" cases, Slossberg said, and state law governing unfair and deceptive trade practices also allows for damages.

John C. Linderman, attorney for Voss Laundry Solutions, declined to comment.

Natalie Missakian can be reached at news@newhavenbiz.com