Jim Boyle Oct. 1, 2014, 6:34am


A national organization formed to help wounded veterans cope with their injuries as they return to civilian life says a Pennsylvania-based non-profit with a similar mission has been infringing on its copyright in a suit filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Representatives from the Wounded Warrior Project seek an injunction against Keystone Wounded Warriors preventing the group from using its logo and mission statement, which the plaintiff claims too closely resembles its own. The Wounded Warrior Project also wants the defendants to cease using photography featuring the plaintiff's logo in the pictures.

According to the complaint, the Wounded Warrior Project was formed in 2003 to provide comfort and aid to soldiers injured in combat in post-9/11 military action, especially in the Middle East. Since its inception, the organization has grown rapidly into one of the largest non-profits benefiting veterans, providing mental and physical health programs for more than 30,000 service members nationwide.

In 2005, the Wounded Warrior Project received the trademark approval for its logo, a silhouette of a soldier carrying another over his shoulder. The image has been used in direct mail, marketing and promotional materials for approximately 10 years, the suit says. According to the complaint, the use of the trademark has translated to an estimated publicity value of $500 million.

The plaintiff says that the Keystone Wounded Warriors have infringed on its copyright by using a similar logo. The defendant's mark is also a silhouette, however the image is that of one soldier dragging another to safety.

The complaint says that the Keystone Wounded Warriors also features promotional photos from fundraising events with background images containing the Wounded Warrior Project trademark. The use of these pictures, the suit alleges, causes confusion with the general public and gives the false impression that the two organizations are affiliated.

Finally, the plaintiffs say, Keystone Wounded Warriors' mission statement (To honor, empower, aid, and assist Pennsylvania service members) uses language closely similar to the Wounded Warrior Project's (To honor and empower Wounded Warriors).

The plaintiffs demand that Keystone Wounded Warriors submit in writing 30 days after the injunction the details of their methods for complying with the court order, plus an advertising campaign making it clear to donors and the general public that the two organizations are not affiliated with each other. Finally, the Wounded Warrior Project seeks punitive and compensatory damage of all profits earned by Keystone Wounded Warriors' alleged copyright infringement.

The plaintiffs are represented by Julie Negovan of Kutak Rock LLP in Philadelphia.

The federal case ID is 5:14-cv-05565-GAM.

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