Express Homebuyers Wins Again As Court Decides Its Allowed To Have Opinions

from the free-the-speech dept

We just recently discussed the very good ruling by Judge T.S. Ellis in a trademark lawsuit between Express Homebuyers USA and WBH Marketing Inc. over the latter's once-valid trademark, "We Buy Houses." Ellis not only concluded that Express Homebuyers' advertising that it too "buys homes" was not trademark infringement, but also went so far as to proclaim that WBH's mark was generic and invalidated it. The generic nature of the mark was obvious and it's a wonder the USPTO ever approved it, but in the end the ruling was good.

Separately, WBH sued Express Homebuyers for false advertising, trade libel, and conspiracy as well. Much of these accusations either relied on the trademark WBH once held or targeted Express Homebuyers' discussion of the dispute in public. In yet another good ruling from Ellis, however, those claims were all tossed out as invalid.

In a fifteen-page written opinion, Judge T.S. Ellis, III of the Eastern District of Virginia concluded that WBH failed to present any facts to support its damages claims. On the false advertising claims, Judge Ellis found that WBH failed to establish any correlation between the alleged false statements and actual harm to WBH. Citing the testimony of its CEO, Jeremy Brandt, WBH could not establish and did not know “who chose not to contact or do business with WBH” in light of the alleged false advertisements.

The court also found that statements such as WBH was “wrong” in enforcing its trademarks, and that WBH was a “trademark bully” were non-actionable opinions because they were nothing more than EHB’s “subjective assessment of WBH’s commercial activity.” Indeed, the court noted that the undisputed facts established that Jeremy Brandt made statements such as “That’s how we roll. Facebook page – gone.” Additionally, Dev Horn, another executive at WBH, stated that WBH needed to “scare the sh*t” out of certain real estate investors and that WBH should “GET THOSE MOTHER F*****S,” referring to specific real estate investors.

In other words, not only is Express Homebuyers allowed to have an opinion about the legal proceedings WBH forced it into, but those opinions have been validated now by the court. Not only is it allowed to call WBH a trademark bully, but Ellis seems to agree with that opinion. With trademark bullying far too often being a successful enterprise for large companies, it's quite nice to see one get knocked around in court like this. Not out of pure pleasure, of course, but for what such rulings should signal to the larger trademark bullying community out there.

Thankfully, with this ruling, it seems this entire dispute has now come to a close, with WBH losing at every turn.

Because those claims were dismissed, the court likewise dismissed WBH’s claims for business and common law conspiracy under Virginia law, concluding that there was no underlying legally actionable conduct.

Brad Chandler, CEO of Express Homebuyers, said, “I’m big on justice in the world and today justice has been served for Express Homebuyers and real estate investors across the United States.”

That's exactly correct. Rulings going the other way would have put one hell of a burden on the real estate industry in America writ large.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2018 @ 9:56pm

    WBH - We're Butt Hurt

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2018 @ 5:22am

    Solar eclipses are usually caused by the Moon obscuring the Sun, but occasionally some idiot's ego is large enough to accomplish the same...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2018 @ 8:29am

    judges

    "discussed the very good ruling by Judge T.S. Ellis"


    what ?? -- our American justice system DEPENDS on which judge we happen to get ?

    Judges can make arbitrary Good/Bad/Wonderful/Horrible court decisions -- and we're stuck with whatever random court decisions result from that crazy process ?

    Aren't all judges supposed to come up with pretty much the same decision, given the same case facts and existing law?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Sep 2018 @ 9:32am

      You would think so, and yet, they are as human as the rest of us.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2018 @ 1:47pm

        Re:

        ...so rather than the rule-of-law ---- we live under the arbitrary rule-of-some-humans with black gowns.
        It's not supposed to work that way.
        Define "rule-of-law"

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2018 @ 5:48am

          Re: Re:

          Rule of law is just another lie told to the minions in order to help convince them to continue their support of the law 'n order mantra. When in truth, rather than rule of law - it is cult of personality.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2018 @ 9:47am

      Re: judges

      If only there was some way to appeal to different judges if you don't agree with the verdict.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2018 @ 2:03pm

        Re: Re: judges

        less than 10% of cases are reversed on appeal; appellate judges don't like to rock the boat --- it makes the judiciary system look bad to the public.

        plus, appeals take time and money.
        Statewide in California, the median time to process civil appeals in appellate courts is 518 days (17 months). States and federal appeals courts vary wildly on their rules, procedures, responsiveness. Appeals are an expensive crapshoot with very bad odds.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 9 Sep 2018 @ 12:39am

      Re: judges

      If they did, we wouldn't need appeals courts.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2018 @ 9:37am

    Bad ruling on the patent office...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2018 @ 9:43am

    I find that this is a bad ruling. It is rulings like this one that puts in jeopardy my wonderful patents. For example I hold the patents on:

    Round mechanical device that promotes transportation.

    Biological device that reproduces resulting in more biological devices.

    A method of exchanging carbon dioxide and oxygen to support a biological life form.

    These are all mine and I deserve to be richly compensated by society. Things are getting so bad that it is almost impossible for a con artist to make a honest living anymore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2018 @ 9:36am

    Its: possessive form of it.

    It's: contraction of 'it is.'

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.