A lawsuit recently filed by Penn against a company by the name of “Wharton” hinges on the issue of alleged trademark infringement, among other allegations.
On Wednesday, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania brought a lawsuit against the Wharton Business Foundation in the United States District Court of Eastern Pennsylvania for their use of the word “Wharton” in the title of their brands.
The University’s complaint alleged that this 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.”
Some of the products to which Penn refers specifically in the complaint are WBF’s “Wharton University,” its “Wharton Business Foundation University,” its website — whartonbusinessfoundation.com — and its phone number, which ends in digits corresponding to the word “Wharton.”
The University declined to comment based on their policy of not commenting on pending litigation.
According to the complaint filed by Penn, WBF has used the registered trademark symbol next to its products “Wharton Business Foundation University” and “Wharton University” even though a search of the Trademark Electronic Search System at the United States Trademark Office documented in the complaint returns no record of a registration for either of WBF’s marks.
Penn also alleged in its complaint that the University’s “good will and reputation have and will continue to be irreparably harmed by WBF’s deceptive and unauthorized use of the University’s Wharton trademark.”
The reparations Penn is asking from the court include a permanent injunction against WBF from advertising its services using “Wharton” in the title, and that it be awarded compensatory and punitive damages and damages for trademark infringement and dilution, among other remedies.
According to its website, WBF is “one of the foremost respected consulting firms helping business owners grow their business and their income to the next level” and its name has “become synonymous with cutting edge expertise and timely intelligence.”
Its website also lists that it has two offices — a corporate office in Beverley Hills, Calif., and another office in Pennsylvania.
WBF did not respond to multiple requests for an interview.
1994 Wharton graduate and former DP photographer Derek Jokelson, who is an attorney at Neil E. Jokelson & Associates, said that since the complaint was recently filed, WBF would have the chance to file a response to the complaint within the next 20 to 60 days.
However, Jokelson was surprised that Penn did not request for an immediate injunction against WBF in its complaint.
“[The University] can ask the court for an almost immediate hearing to have the Wharton Business Foundation stop using the Wharton trademark name,” Jokelson said. “[It is] surprising that Penn didn’t ask for that.”
The University is asking for a trial by jury in this matter.