Ayn Rand-Loving Companies Fight Over Atlas Shrugged Characters in Court
|This sounds like a job for John Galt|
Steve Perlman founded Rearden LLC, a San Francisco tech incubator, in 1999, naming the company after his favorite Rand character. Rearden Commerce, a web-based concierge service that offers customers the "Rearden Personal Assistant," helps organize travel plans and links to many travel vendors. According to the lawsuit, the company's owner, Patrick Grady, "also has an affinity for Rand's 'Hank Rearden' character," and thus gave his business that name in 2005.
After Rearden Commerce registered a few domain names that included the name "Rearden," Rearden LLC filed a federal lawsuit, complaining that the other Rearden was cyber-squatting, among other things.
A U.S. judge later sided with Rearden Commerce, saying consumers really weren't going to be confused by the two names, since they offered completely different services.The judge also felt that Rearden Commerce was acting in good faith, and not intentionally cyber-squatting, according to court documents.
However, the Ninth Circuit disagrees, saying the two companies are actually very similar, and have even appeared in the same publications and relied on the same funding sources and investors.
"It takes only a small exercise of imagination to associate this name, made famous in the business community (and elsewhere) as an image or paragon of entrepreneurial success by Rand's highly successful and influential novel, with the incubation of start-up enterprises," according to the opinion authored by Judge Robert Cowen, who sat on the panel.