By KANDACE MCCOY
MT. VERNON — A federal lawsuit has been filed in Illinois by WGBH against the Treasure Hunters Roadshow, which is slated make an appearance in the King City starting tomorrow.
The WGBH Educational Foundation is the company which produces the Public Broadcasting Station series, “Antiques Roadshow.” The lawsuit, filed two weeks ago, names Jeff Parsons and THR & Associates — Parson’s company which does business and event shows under the name of the “Treasure Hunters Roadshow,” “Antique Treasure Hunters Roadshow,” and “Ohio Valley Gold & Silver Refinery,” among other entities as defendants.
WGBH is accusing the company of violating its trademark and participating in unfair competition and unfair business practices in violation of the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
According to the lawsuit, a trademark infringement is ongoing with the continued use of the word, “Roadshow” in “Treasure Hunters Roadshow” as well as use of a treasure chest logo which closely resembles the logo of the Antiques Road Show, WGBH’s production and product. WGBH claims Parsons and his companies are misusing the names and logo to benefit from the “recognition and good will” as well as the reputation and fame which has been established by the WGBH Antiques Roadshow.
The lawsuit alleges Parsons and his companies’ “willfulness and bad faith are amply evidenced by their prior knowledge of (WGBH’s) rights and clearly are intended to lure consumers to (their) events and to commercially benefit from WGBH’s goodwill.”
This is not the first time WGBH and Parsons have butted heads in court over Parson’s use of the “Roadshow” moniker. In June 1999, WGBH filed a civil action lawsuit against Parsons and the International Toy Collectors Association, the precursor of THR & Associates. The complaint was settled out of court with the ITCA agreeing not to use the term “Roadshow” any longer.
Parsons dissolved the ITCA and formed THR & Associates in 2007.
“We believe there are many people who have been confused and the things such as the prominent use of roadshow and the treasure chest are leading to that confusion,” said Eric Brass, corporate counsel for the WGBH Educational Foundation.
The lawsuit states the trademark Antiques Roadshow was legally issued to the British Broadcasting Corporation on Dec. 17, 2002, and the BBC has licensed its use to WGBH.
However, Matt Enright, vice president of media relations for THR & Associates, says his company has not violated trademark law.
“They tried to do this back in 1999 or 2000,” he said. “They have already tried to sue — they lost once and they’ll lose again. You can’t trademark the name roadshow. ... They don’t know anything about our business. I think they’re scared because we have a new show coming out in the fall. We have a better show and exciting event that people enjoy.”
Brass admitted the two companies have argued over the trademark issue previously.
“We have a history with Mr. Parsons and he seems to operate under different entities,” Brass added. “I think the federal complaint speaks for itself.”
The company also has a history of bounced checks, and according to the lawsuit, the defendants have been accused of bouncing over 40 checks in January.
In March 2008, the company — then the Antique Treasure Hunters Roadshow — held a show in the King City which resulted in complaints to the Mt. Vernon Police Department regarding bad checks. Those issues have been taken care of, Enright said.
“The bounced checks, that’s old news,” he said. “We work with JP Morgan and Chase Bank and write more checks than Ford Motor Company. It was less than 200 checks — less than 1 percent of what we write. It was an issue with the bank and we immediately got it taken care of.”
According to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office, previous complaints against Parsons and his company have been filed, but have since been resolved. There are no current complaints against the Treasure Hunters Roadshow at this time.
But, despite the federal claim against his company, Enright says the Treasure Hunter Roadshow is completely separate from the PBS Antiques Roadshow.
“Nothing bad to say about them and the fact is they do what they do best and we’re doing what we do best,” he said. “We’re in the business of purchasing collectibles, gold and silver.”
By KANDACE MCCOY
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