BANGOR, Maine — An Aroostook County business that in 2011 created and launched 7 Little Words, a popular word game for smartphones, is suing a New York website owner claiming trademark infringement, unfair competition and several other crimes.
The suit was filed in United States District Court on Jan. 31.
Blue Ox Technologies of Caribou is a home-based business developed by Christopher York. It develops and releases educational and entertainment-related software and print variants.
York’s 7 Little Words game took off after being featured in Apple’s App Store in May 2011, quickly hitting 5 million downloads. A U.S. trademark registration for it was registered in May 2011, according to court documents. Attorneys for Blue Ox Technologies claim that the company has spent and continues to spend considerable amounts of time and money promoting 7 Little Words.
The lawsuit alleges that Richard L. Young of New York, N.Y., operates a website called “Seven Little Words” at the domain 7littlewords.com, which he registered on June 3, 2011.
Attorneys for Blue Ox claim that Young registered the domain name and began operating the website with knowledge that both names are identical or nearly identical to 7 Little Words and with the intention of benefitting from the notoriety of 7 Little Words. They allege in court documents that Young’s website is being used to carry paid advertisements and to post solutions to 7 Little Words puzzles.
Attorneys for Blue Ox also are alleging that Young’s registration of the domain name and creation of his website occurred after Blue Ox Technologies began its operation and marketing of its word game. They claim that consumers and members of the general public will be confused into assuming incorrectly that Young’s website and domain name are owned by Blue Ox Technologies, or that there is an affiliation between the parties, or that Blue Ox Technologies has sponsored, endorsed or approved of Young.
Attorneys for Blue Ox said in court documents that Young’s actions “are an effort to free-ride on the enormous goodwill established by plaintiff’s well known software and print variants.”
They are suing for infringement of a registered trademark, false designation of origin and unfair competition, trademark dilution, violation of Maine’s uniform deceptive trade practices, common law trademark infringement, common law unfair competition and cybersquatting.
Blue Ox is claiming that Young’s acts of infringement have caused Blue Ox to sustain monetary damage, loss and injury, in an amount to be determined at a jury trial.
Blue Ox is being represented by Verrill Dana of Portland. Attorneys did not return calls seeking comment this week. Young could not be reached for comment.