Texas motorcycle club looking to end threat of trademark infringement

By Andrea Dearden | Sep 15, 2014

The head of a Texas motorcycle club says a Virginia company has no right to accuse him of trademark infringement. 

Darren Cole filed a lawsuit against Hard on the Throttle Motorcycle Club Inc. on Aug. 11 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas.  

Cole says in 2003 he organized a group of leisurely motorcycle riders into the Hands on the Throttle Riderz, a club sometimes referred to as H.O.T.T. Over the years, he says the H.O.T.T. club grew in size to include members in Louisiana and Texas. Aside from riding, Cole says his group organizes and participates in charity events and community functions. 

According to the complaint, the defendant, Hard on the Throttle is a business in Richmond, Va., that claims to be the owner of two U.S. trademark registration numbers for the characters "HOTT Hard on the Throttle MC." 

In a letter dated April 15, Cole says an attorney representing the Hard on the Throttle Motorcycle Club accused him of trademark infringement for his use of H.O.T.T. Cole contends it is not a violation because the "two marks are not similar" and are in "geographically remote markets and thus there cannot be any confusion to constitute trademark infringement." 

A second letter dated July 30 warned Cole to immediately sign an agreement prohibiting him from using the acronym HOTT or face "ligation without delay". Cole says the threat of a lawsuit creates a "justiciable controversy" regarding his club's right to use "its own first four initials, H.O.T.T., in any form or manner free of allegations by the defendant." 

Cole is requesting a declaratory judgment of trademark non-infringement and asking for a cancellation of the defendant's trademark registrations, citing fraud in procurement and descriptive and generic language unable to be trademarked. Cole also asks the court to declare the defendant's trademarks in the suit unenforceable against the plaintiff. 

Attorney Sartaj Bal, of Houston, represents Cole. 

The case number is Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas case 4:14-cv-02302 

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note that a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt and it represents only one side of the story.

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