Kansas City market research company sues national polling firm over alleged trademark infringement

By John Breslin | Oct 18, 2018

KANSAS CITY – A Missouri-based market research company recently filed a federal suit against a national polling firm alleging trademark infringement.

Service Management Group (SMG), headquartered in Kansas City, filed the suit Oct. 10 in the U.S District Court for the Western District of Missouri accusing YouGov America, doing business as SMG Insight, of using the trademarked letters SMG in an internet address and as part of marketing materials. The suit alleges infringement of a registered trademark, unfair competition and violation of cybersquatting laws.

In the complaint, SMG characterizes itself as a company that "offers a wide variety of market research, specializing in customer experience, employee engagement, and brand services."

It claimed to be the owner of "an incontestable federal trademark for the mark SMG." Further, the company operates a website, www.smg.com.

The company is complaining about YouGov's use of the name "SMG Insight," including within an internet address, which SMG describes as "substantially identical, confusingly similar" to its own.

According to the complaint, “SMG Insight” is registered in the United Kingdom, but not in the U.S. SMG Insight is either a joint venture, according to YouGov, or wholly owned by the U.S. company, according to SMG.

The complaint states that YouGov conducts political, brand and market research in Missouri.

It added, "Defendant has been using the term 'SMG Insight' in connection with the promotion and offering of services identical and/or substantially similar and in competition with services offered by SMG. ... For example, upon information and belief, defendant has caused actual confusion in the marketplace by contacting and/or attempting to solicit at least one of SMG’s existing customers."

YouGov is accused of infringing the registered mark and unfair competition because its actions were "calculated to, has caused, and is likely to continue to cause confusion and deception," the filing said.

SMG also claims YouGov is in violation an Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, which is aimed at combating piggybacking on a registered and known domain, which may divert potential customers away from the site they are actually looking for.

The Kansas City company is asking the court to issue an injunction barring YouGov from using any mark, name, or title containing the term SMG. It further wants the defendant to tally any profits that came from its alleged wrongful acts of infringement and asks that YouGov hand over those profits, along with damages and costs.

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