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CANADIAN FIRM FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY CAST MEMBERS AND BLK BRANDS FOR THEFT OF "BLACKWATER" CONCEPTDecember 15, 2011
Los Angeles—Canadian design and marketing company Creative Thinkers, Inc. today filed a lawsuit against several companies and individuals including cast members of the reality television program The Real Housewives of New Jersey for theft of the concept used for the bottled-water product, BLACKWATER, misappropriation of the trademark, and breach of contract.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, names BLK Brands LLC. ("BLK") and it owners, reality TV stars Chris Manzo, Albie Manzo, and Chris Laurita, as well as Jacqueline and Louise Wilkie, as defendants.
The suit alleges that the Wilkies entered into an agreement with Creative Thinkers to bottle BLACKWATER, a specialty health water infused with a proprietary blend of fulvic and humic acid. Instead of working with Ivan Solomon (the owner of Creative Thinkers), Gordon Jung (Solomon's partner), and their corporation, Blackwater Innovations Corp., the Wilkies stole the idea and trademark and marketed the product with the Manzo-Laurita family.
A team of Pillsbury Intellectual Property attorneys, led by Los Angeles partners Bobby A. Ghajar and Mark D. Litvack, represents Creative Thinkers, Blackwater Innovations Corp., Solomon, and Jung.
"One of the core premises of trademark law is the right and ability to protect one's name against imitations and customer confusion," said Ghajar. "This case goes to the heart of trademark law."
In July 2011, Blackwater Innovations Corp. sent a cease and desist letter to BLK. The Wilkies assert that they developed the idea for the product after they witnessed the water heal their sick mother. However, in a November 2009 agreement, the defendants received confidential information about the Blackwater specialty product and agreed to keep information about the health water confidential.
According to court documents, the Manzo-Laurita family inappropriately used reality TV fame to sell a false story about how the idea for a fulvic- and humic-acid infused health drink originated. Creative Thinkers asserts that the family stole the idea after attending a food industry trade show. At the trade show, the Manzo-Laurita family saw the BLACKWATER product and conspired with the Wilkies to steal the product, marketing, and distribution plan. They are now marketing the product under the name "BLK Water" and "blk. BLACKWATER" on the Real Housewives television show, online, and in grocery stores nationwide.
"We are confident that the evidence will prove that the Manzo-Laurita family and the Wilkies stole the BLACKWATER specialty concept," said Litvack, who specializes in entertainment law at Pillsbury. "The Manzo-Laurita family has wrongfully used its fame to steal another's idea, and this suit seeks to restore ownership of BLACKWATER to its true originator."
Creative Thinkers, Inc. seeks to have its stolen property returned, to recover the monies and good will wrongfully taken from it, and to prevent the defendants from wrongfully profiting from their theft, deception and infringement.
Blackwater Innovations Corp., Solomon, and Jung also filed a countersuit responding to claims by BLK that they had infringed the company's trademark rights. BLK filed the suit in reaction to the July 2011 cease and desist letter.
With more than 85 IP practitioners firmwide, Pillsbury advises clients on developing successful and comprehensive strategies to protect, manage, assert, defend and leverage their IP assets. The team spans a number of offices and countries, with team members in Northern Virginia, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Houston, Washington, DC, New York, San Diego, Sacramento, Tokyo, and London. The firm has a distinguished record of successful trademark enforcement and defense before federal and state courts and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, in addition to numerous international trademark forums. The Pillsbury team has litigated a large number of cases involving all types of trade symbols – word marks, logos and trade dress packaging and product design, frequently with overlapping design patent, utility patent and copyright claims.
About Creative Thinkers, Inc. and Blackwater
Creative Thinkers, Inc., based in Vancouver, Canada, with its affiliate Blackwater Innovations Corp., are the rightful owners of the concept for BLACKWATER, a beverage enriched with fulvic and humic acid. These acids have been called "Nature's perfect medicine." After researching evidence of fulvic and humic acid's health benefits, Creative Thinkers owner Ivan Solomon and partner Gordon Jung decided to source high-quality fulvic and humic acid concentrates and test market a "BLACKWATER" beverage. Two major food stores showcased the product and sales and interest soared, followed by health benefit testimonials and requests for distribution rights from all parts of the globe. They continue to expand the offering of BLACKWATER products in order to make a positive impact on the health of their customers.
About Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Pillsbury is a full-service law firm with a keen industry focus on energy & natural resources, financial services, real estate & construction, and technology. Based in the world's major financial, technology and energy centers, Pillsbury counsels clients on global regulatory, litigation and corporate matters. We work in multidisciplinary teams that allow us to anticipate trends and bring a 360-degree perspective to complex business and legal issues—helping clients to take greater advantage of new opportunities and better mitigate risk. This collaborative work style helps produce the results our clients seek.