Wayne Farms LLC filed a trademark complaint in the Northern District of Illinois on Wednesday alleging that an individual they call John Doe used its logo and counterfeited the company’s trademark to acquire fraudulent orders for products and receive money. The complaint was also filed against Linkedin Corporation, which allegedly allowed the individual to place its logo on their website and enabled him to “promote his fraudulent transactions.”
The Senior Sales Manager at Wayne Farms, Patrick J. Gomez, has worked for the company since 2014 and in the poultry business since 2000. He also has a Linkedin profile which was started in 2013. Gomez learned in July that a Linkedin profile with his name and position and the email “firstname.lastname@example.org” existed on Linkedin, and the owner of the account was contacting customers claiming to be him. The account used the company’s logo and claimed to be associated with Wayne Farms.
The company’s logo consists of the words “Wayne Farms” located under a simple picture of a barn, silo, and tree with an outline above and beneath the logo. The company said it has used its marks in advertising and promoting for years and that it has received trademarks for multiple marks. It claimed its trademark has become recognizable, as it is one of the largest poultry processing companies. The complaint said the company has “built an enviable reputation for the quality of its products and is favorably regarded for its business practices.”
After Gomez noticed the account, he reported to Linkedin that it was fake on July 25 and it was briefly unviewable, but employees at Wayne Farms noticed it was again running on August 5, despite being reported again by the employees. The complaint said Wayne Farms has received inquiries about the status of an order from international buyers when no order was placed with the company.
The company alleged that the individuals were asked to give deposits by the owner of the account, John Doe, and, because of the counterfeited logo, the individuals sent money to the owner of the fake profile. The complaint lists individuals contacting them to verify before wiring funds to the fake account in August, who they informed about the fraud. The complaint includes text conversations with the individual giving information on how to send money.
The plaintiff accused the defendants of trademark infringement, unfair competition, dilution, and cybersquatting. Wayne Farms cited the Lanham act and copyright laws and claimed the defendants broke federal and state laws.
The complaint asked the court to enjoin John Doe from using Gomez’s name or the company’s trademarks and committing any acts which cause consumers to think he is associated with Wayne Farms, including attempts to sell fake products. It also asked for the Linkedin account to be permanently frozen and all of the account’s content to be provided to Wayne Farms. They also sought for any financial institutions associated with the individual to restrain the accounts and transfer funds to Wayne Farms.
Wayne Farms is represented by Ladas & Parry.