— Spilman Thomas & Battle (Spilman) announced that client Pace-O-Matic Inc. (Pace) and its affiliates recently won a federal jury trial in a lengthy, high-stakes trademark and contract case.
A jury determined that Pace-O-Matic had the rights to the name “Pennsylvania Skill” and a former operator willfully and unlawfully copied and tried to trademark the name. A link to the verdict can be found here
The Spilman team, led by Member and Vice Chair of Litigation Julian E. Neiser
, with support of associates Jonathan A. Deasy
and Anthony J.G. Hassey
and many others at the firm, developed a strategic litigation and trial plan that not only won the case but also defeated all counterclaims brought by the defendants, which included counts for breach of contract and unfair competition.
Pace-O-Matic Chief Public Affairs Officer Michael Barley added, “This ruling confirms that the ‘Pennsylvania Skill’ name is the sole property of Pace-O-Matic, and we will act against those who are wrongfully using the name. For years we have witnessed countless illegal video gaming terminals and slot machines use our ‘Pennsylvania Skill’ name to skirt the law. This decision allows Pace-O-Matic to take action to end this type of behavior. We are grateful to Julian and his team for protecting our rights and defeating PSG’s claims entirely.”
Spilman filed the suit on behalf of Pace in the spring of 2018 after learning that Pennsylvania Skill Games, LLC (PSG) filed a trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office claiming ownership of the word and design mark for PENNSYLVANIA SKILL. At trial, Pace established that PSG not only lacked the right to do so, it used Pace’s own artwork in the application. The jury ultimately found that PSG willfully violated Pace’s trademarks.
Because the case involved common law trademarks, Pace needed to prove secondary meaning in the marketplace and association between consumers and the brand. Additionally, Pace had to establish that PSG infringed on the mark by misbranding products. The jury agreed and found in Pace’s favor after only a few hours of deliberations.
This is the second significant award obtained by the Pittsburgh Spilman office in a year. Attorneys Neiser and Deasy won a multi-million dollar award, including fees and costs, after a one-week trial last spring before the AAA. This case involved a complex natural gas distribution line project, and the pipeline owner not only refused to pay Spilman’s client for work performed, it filed a counterclaim that was nearly double the size of the client’s claim. Similar to the Pace case, Spilman obtained a complete award on all its claims and defeated all counterclaims.
About Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC
Spilman Thomas & Battle is a full-service, super-regional law firm serving local, regional, national and international businesses. Founded in 1864, Spilman has offices in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Charleston, Morgantown and Wheeling, West Virginia; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and Roanoke, Virginia.