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.

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Filed Under: buys homes, trademark, we buy homes
Companies: express homebuyers, wbh marketing


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  1. 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.


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