This time we are writing this blog about something close to home.
The Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR), the governing body for Arizona State University (ASU), issued a federal lawsuit against the owner of the social media account “asu_covid.parties”. This individual claimed to organize “COVID parties”.
The lawsuit is also against the social media platform Facebook.
The account was originally created in Instagram. Facebook is Instagram’s parent company.
The account had 23 posts and 970 followers before it was removed.
What is a COVID party? Some have reported young people organizing parties without social distancing and face masks. To add recklessness, hosts invite people infected with COVID19. It is a wicked way to defy their odds of getting the disease.
There is no clarity if COVID parties are a real phenomenon. There are very few documented cases of infections due to them.
The ASU COVID Party account also provided a platform to criticize the University’s mask requirement and other steps to protect the health of students, faculty, and staff.
Trademarks, Logos and Colors
The lawsuit alleges false advertising, the spread of harmful misinformation about public health, and… trademark infringement: The use of ASU name, colors, and logo triggered the institutions’ anger.
ABOR asked the courts for the shutdown of the account. In addition, it seeks relief from Facebook “as a contributory infringer” of ASU trademarks and intellectual property rights.
The Board of Regents is not wasting time. Due to the serious public health issues involved, ASU is asking “expedited discovery, temporary restraining, and preliminary injunction”.
At this moment, the identity of the account creator is not known. The Arizona Republic wrote it is said to be an event planner. ASU alleges that the account originated in Russia.
There is no evidence a COVID Party has ever taken place due to this advertisement or any other involving the ASU community.
Instagram takes account down
Instagram took quick action, taking down the account. However, Facebook (the parent company) disagrees that the account committed intellectual property infringement.
This underscores the university and its board’s position in cracking down on students violating or ignoring the health guidance issued in June. They have been clear that any student jeopardizing his or her own health and that of others, will be subject to discipline under the student code of conduct.
Also, it highlights how institutions are not going to sit down and let other parties infringe on their intellectual property.
ABOR and ASU are seeking a jury trial and to receive damages and payment for the account’s trademark infringement and false advertising.
There is more to this case, but it should be sufficient enough to say that trademark infringement is not a joke and should be taken seriously.
Attorney Marcos E. Garciaacosta is a trademark and business attorney located in the Phoenix metro area, but with an international scope.
Call us for a consultation at (480) 324-6378