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Hot or Not? Florida Clash of the Billboard Ads Settled

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on January 14, 2010 1:50 PM

This probably doesn't happen in North Dakota. But in Florida, a billboard ad announcing: "Your wife is hot! Better get your A/C fixed!" set off an all out ad war that resulted in a trademark infringement suit which finally settled out of court last week. Now we can all take a deep breath, right?

The attorneys and owners of the rival air conditioning companies did plenty of huffing and puffing these last few months. The suit came about after the original billboard by Air Around the Clock was challenged by competitors All Year Cooling responding, "YOUR WIFE IS NOT HOT! Because you called All Year Cooling to replace your A/C rather than the other guys." It's almost enough to make you want to bring in Paris Hilton to referee, isn't it?

In response, Air Around the Clock quickly filed for state trademark protection for the content of their original ad and sued. "They have the same colors, the same graphics...ours are yellow and black, theirs are yellow and black," owner Michael Lang said at the time of the suit. "You know, if they wanted to try and go about it in a different way, and not take our design maybe it would have been different, but they did." As is typical of trademark infringement claims, Air Around the Clock alleged their competitor's advertisement was likely to cause confusion and deceive consumers as to the origin of the services.

Attorney for competitor All Year Cooling, Meredith Mendez, thought all was fair in A/C and trademarks. "It's just fair competition and they're just mad we came up with a more clever slogan," Mendez said. 

With that level of vitriol, it's hard to believe the Montagues and Capulets of Broward County air conditioning services would ever come to an agreement, but agree they did. Unfortunately, the details of the settlement remain unknown. The judge has dismissed the case. Breathe easy.

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