Independent Film Society of Boston, Inc. v. Patrick Jerome d/b/a Boston International Film Festival (17-cv-11856).

The Independent Film Society of Boston (“IFSB”) has been running the Independent Film Festival Boston (“IFF Boston”) since 2003. The festival occurs each spring, and screens more than a hundred films in area independent art-house cinemas.  The IFSB previously sued the International Film Festival (“BIFF”) for trademark infringement and false designation of origin arising from BIFF’s use of BOSTON IFF and BOSTONIFF marks similar to the IFSB’s IFF BOSTON marks and for BIFF’s adoption of the www.bostoniff.org domain name.  IFSB alleges that BIFF falsely claimed priority in the BOSTON IFF mark, and that BIFF falsified evidence in an attempt to prove priority.  The case was successfully mediated by Magistrate Judge Bowler, and a settlement agreement was executed in May 2017.  (It should be noted that the falsification of evidence allegation was never proven or admitted to by BIFF).

IFSB now alleges breach of the settlement agreement by BIFF’s continued use of the BOSTONIFF mark in various places on its website, for example ,in the copyright notice at the bottom of every page, in numerous drop-down menus, and in background photographs. IFSB further alleges that BIFF has continued to direct traffic to its bostoniff.org website rather than directing all traffic to its bostoniff.com site and has failed to place a noticeable disclaimer of affiliation on all film submission documents, as required by the agreement.  IFSB also brings counts for breach of the implied covenant of the good faith and fair dealing, which is imposed as a matter of law in Massachusetts to all contracts, unfair competition, trademark infringement, and false designation of origin under the Lanham Act, common law unfair competition and trademark infringement; and violation of M.G.L. c. 93A.  IFSB seeks damages, trebling of damages for willfulness, punitive damages, a permanent injunction, specific corrective advertisements and notices from BIFF, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

 

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