Last week, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania filed a trademark infringement and cybersquatting suit against the Wharton Business Foundation (WBF) over the use of the word “Wharton” in its brands. The University is the home of The Wharton School, the oldest collegiate business school in the United States, which has been in operation since 1881.
The suit claims that WBF’s use of the word “Wharton” might create a “false impression in the minds of consumers that WBF is affiliated with, endorsed or sponsored by the University, particularly the Wharton School.” It cites WBF’s use of “Wharton University,” “Wharton Business Foundation University,” and its domain name, whartonbusinessfoundation.com. In addition, the last seven digits in the company’s phone number, advertised on its website, spell out “Wharton.”
The WBF website lists the Wharton Business Foundation University using a registered trademark symbol. Although we found a 2012 registration for Wharton Business Foundation The Next Level System (see the record below), we did not locate a U.S. trademark filing for Wharton Business Foundation University.
Penn is asking for a jury trial and a permanent injunction against Wharton Business Foundation prohibiting it from using “Wharton” in advertising, in addition to compensatory and punitive damages for trademark infringement and dilution.
Do you see a likelihood of confusion?