By John Breslin | Jul 25, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – A judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California recently dismissed claims that a trademark services company made "false and misleading statements" and engaged in the "unlawful practice of the law."

U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney handed down the ruling July 17 in in the case in which California-based LegalForce RAPC, which provides legal services in the field of trademark law, sued TTC Business Solutions and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). 

Essentially, LegalForce's suit claimed TTC and related entities falsely advertise services and are operating as a legal firm but without regulation and oversight. It also claimed USPTO failed to enforce the rules and regulations that patent attorneys must abide by.

This, the suit claimed, "prevents LegalForce RAPC from competing with" TTC, its related companies and a named individual, Matthew Swyers.

Swyers, an attorney, was accused of using one of the entities as an alter ego, or company set up simply as a legal shield to protect an individual.

Judge Chesney found that there was not sufficient evidence to show the entity was an alter ego for Swyers.

Further, the judge dismissed the claim of false advertising as the plaintiff's failed to provide sufficient evidence that the defendant engaged in "deceptive advertisements" as they must be misleading and "certainly ground in fraud."

TTC claimed it was featured in a main stream news site and that it was operating in the trademark services field since 2003. Neither of these claims were true, the plaintiffs allege.

On the issue of "unlawful practice of law," the court ruled that this claim was made under state law. Chesney dismissed the claim but allowed leave either to refile in state court or file an amended version of the complaint in federal court.

LegalForce also alleged that the patent office deprived the company of due processs by failing to enforce rules and regulations and subjecting the company to "repeated and harassing acts ... including asking for names and home contact information for all non-practitioner legal assistants."

The patent office argued that the allegations were insufficient to state a due process deprivation claim as there was no evidence the company was prevented from practicing trademark law. The court agreed and dismissed the claim.

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