LegalForce RAPC is a law firm that is a large filer of trademark applications. It is wholly owned by Raj Abhyanker. LegalForce Inc. is a corporation that offers the TRADEMARKIA search service. LegalZoom offers automated legal document preparation services, including trademark application and preparation and filing. It provides access to an ‘independent network of attorneys’ but it is not a law firm. What LegalZoom is, precisely, is part of the issue in this lawsuit.
LegalForce has sued Legalzoom for antitrust, unfair competition, and related state claims. The gist is that Legalzoom is providing legal services without authorization to do so.
The complaint, below, is 81 pages. Specifics as to what services LegalZoom performs in relation to trademark begins around page 18. In paragraph 51, LegalForce alleges that it placed two ‘trap filings’ with LegalZoom. LegalZoom allegedly provided legal advice ‘by selecting classification and modifying the good and services descriptions’ from LegalZoom’s online form. Furthermore, LegalZoom “provided legal advice as to which trademarks found in the search report may conflict with” the trademarks in question (para. 52, page 19).
Interestingly, LegalForce alleges in para 53 (page 19) that LegalZoom ‘surreptitiously’ does not document such modifications of the customer’s online form, presumably to avoid providing such advice in writing.
Paragraph 54 provides the blow-by-blow of the ‘trap’ filings.
In addition to all this, Paragraph 57 alleges that “LegalZoom does not refund $50 of the collected $275 government fee collected through its website if the non-lawyer staff at LegalZoom determine that the trademark qualifies as a TEAS Plus application with the lower filing fee of $225. (page 26-27). (note – if true – that sounds like a very straightforward class action suit).