Torrance, Calif. — High-performance TV manufacturer Proton announced this week that it had won a preliminary injunction on March 16th barring the price-aggressive LCD TV vendor Prosonic Group/Protron Digital from “further use or distribution of materials and products with the confusingly similar Protron band name or trademark.”
However, the action does not become effective until Proton covers the issuance of a $500,000 bond, which company representatives acknowledged that it had still not done as this was written — more than a month since the order was made. Also, agents for Proton had not responded by our deadline with an estimated time for posting the bond.
When contacted by TWICE, a spokesman for Proton said the company plans to proceed with payment for the bond, explaining that the delay resulted in part from a technical snafu related to confusion over the location of Proton’s corporate headquarters, which are in Taiwan.
In its complaint, which was first issued over a year ago, according to the spokesman, Proton charged Prosonic/Protron with allegedly improperly using the brand name “Protron” to sell directly competing products, including flat-panel LCD screens, and trying to register “Protron” as a brand.
Proton claimed “irreparable harm” from the use of the similar Protron name in advertising, which has allegedly “caused purchasers of Proton flat-panel screens to ask dealers why their units were so much more expensive than the same product they had seen advertised for substantially less.”
Proton also claimed that sales were harmed by allegedly “inducing consumers to purchase less expensive LCD screens sold under the Protron trademark and by injuring Proton's business reputation and good will.”
U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner, Central District of California, ruled that Proton’s arguments support a likelihood of success in a trademark infringement claim, but also ruled that Proton had not produced sufficient evidence to indicate that Prosonic/Protron had intended to deceive consumers by using the similar name and trademark.
Gary Bennett, Protron sales VP, told TWICE he was surprised when news of the injunction was issued by Proton press representatives this week, over a month since it was first ordered.
“Proton in March was supposed to post a half-million dollar bond if they were going to pursue this action, and they haven’t. So, there is no injunction,” Bennett declared. “Actually, our insurance company has posted a bond, not Proton. Ordinarily, a bond is posted within two weeks.”
“Our company is working for a settlement of this, and it should happen relatively soon,” Bennett continued, adding the companies are expected to meet next week.
A jury trial for the matter has been set for Oct. 24, 2006, but Bennett said he was hopeful the dispute would be settled before that would take place.
In his ruling, the judge indicated that since Prosonic “began selling televisions under the Protron mark, Proton’s salespeople have received several complaints from customers who have confused Protron with Proton televisions. Other customers have come to [Proton] for technical service regarding [Protron’s] televisions.”
He continued that [Proton] has also seen advertisements issued by retailers which confuse the two brands,” including store flyers depicting Protron DVD players mislabeled as Proton devices.