HomeVestors of America, Inc. v. Mass Property Solutions, LLC (18-cv-11206) and The Mandrell Company, LLC (18-cv-11209).

HomeVestors is a Texas company that sells franchises to investors who flip properties.  They advertise using the slogan “WE BUY UGLY HOUSES,” and have numerous registered trademarks that utilize the phrase “UGLY HOUSES” or the like.  HomeVestors has filed a large number of trademark suits across the country, and on Friday filed a pair of suits against Massachusetts-based businesses that buy, renovate and resell distressed homes, namely Mass Property Solutions and The Mandrell Company.  The accusations are that these companies use the phrase “We Buy Ugly Houses” or confusingly similar marks on their websites and social media posts in metatags or source code to direct traffic to their websites, all without a license.  It appears that HomeVestors intends to deny non-franchisees the ability to use the words “ugly houses” in any fashion, including as a descriptive term for a non-attractive property; the uses complained of include “Do you buy only ‘ugly houses’?” in a FAQ section or “All Houses, Short Sales, Ugly Houses & All Cash” in source code.  It will be interesting to see how far HomeVestors can push the scope of their trademarks, should any of these cases move forward.  In the meanwhile, HomeVestors seeks actual and treble damages, injunctive relief, and a finding that the cases are exceptional and warrant an award of attorneys’ fees.

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