On August 18, 2008, Granite Gaming Group II, LLC (“Granite”) filed a lawsuit against Primal Ventures, Inc., STRIPCLUBNETWORK.COM, Cybertech Internet Solutions and Paul J. Brown (collectively, the Defendants). See Granite Gaming Group II, LLC v. Primal Ventures, Inc. et al. A copy of the complaint can be downloaded here.
Since 2006, Granite has been the owner of the famed “gentleman’s club” known as the “Girls of Glitter Gulch” located on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. According to the complaint, Granite and its predecessors in interest have used the mark GLITTER GULCH in connection with its “gentleman’s club” since at least 1993. Granite holds a Nevada state trade name registration for the name GIRLS OF GLITTER GULCH (TN00260375) for “entertainment-tavern services” filed in June 1993 and claiming date of first use on 1/1/1991.
In January 2003, Defendant Primal Ventures registered the domain name http://www.glittergulchlv.com/. Visitors to the website (which I admit I had to visit in order to do research for this post) find a website which at first appears to be an “official” website for the club – containing the club’s address, providing a “virtual tour” of the club (having never been inside, I’ll take their word for it), and the following welcome message “Welcome to Glitter Gulch, Las Vegas' world class topless club. Located in the heart of Las Vegas, Glitter Gulch is the ultimate destination for 24 hour adult entertainment.” However, when users take advantage of the opportunity to “Join Us Now,” the user is directed to the website http://www.stripclubnetwork.com/ (also owned by Primal Ventures) and then presented with a myriad of strip club related links as well as some advertisements for adult oriented website subscriptions. Both websites are hosted by Cybertech Internet Solutions, which is also owned by Primal Ventures.
Granite alleges that the Defendants, through their false association with Granite’s The Girls of Glitter Gulch, is trading on Granite’s goodwill and unfairly deriving revenue from such false association. Granite’s causes of action are (1) Cybersquatting under 15 U.S.C. §1125(d), (2) Unfair Competition under 15 U.S.C. §1125(a), (3) Nevada State Trademark Infringement under N.R.S. § 600.420, (4) Nevada State Trademark Dilution under N.R.S. § 600.435, (5) Common Law Trademark Infringement, (6) Deceptive Trade Practices under N.R.S. § 598.0903, et seq., and (7) Intentional Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage.
If the Defendants were simply advertising other strip clubs – and not trying to pass itself off as the official website for the “Girls of Glitter Gulch” club – they would have been in a much stronger position to defend against Granite’s allegations of infringement and cybersquatting. After all, the Defendants could have argued that the term “Glitter Gulch” in the domain name “glittergulchlv” is a reference to the famed nickname for that part of town – and not a reference to the “Girls of Glitter Gulch” club. Unfortunately for the Defendants, their infringement is much more blatant and intentional, and thus Granite is very likely to get the preliminary and permanent injunctive relief it seeks.
[09/06/08 Update: The Las Vegas Review Journal had an interesting (albeit unrelated to trademarks) article (link here) about the likely-doomed attempt by the “Girls of Glitter Gulch” club to convince the Nevada Gaming Control Board that it should be allowed to have a license to have slot machines on its premises. Apparently, Board agents visited the property on two occasions in February and were asked if they wanted to buy illegal drugs and solicited for prostitution. The article mentions the recent lawsuit filed by Granite against the above website, which the Board actually cited against Granite as evidence of Granite's links to questionable businesses.]