Bill Nye Sues E-Commerce Websites for Trademark Infringement, Counterfeiting

On Friday, Bill Nye Productions, Inc. filed a trademark infringement suit and temporary restraining order to the Northern District of Illinois against numerous domain names linked to fully interactive websites selling and importing counterfeit Bill Nye products. 

According to the complaint, William Stafford Nye, is popularly known as Bill Nye the Science Guy, is an American mechanical engineer, science communicator, television presenter and CEO of the leading non-profit space advocacy organization the Planetary Society. Further, Bill Nye Productions owns and manages the licensing, sale and marketing of Bill Nye-branded products including books, T-shirts, sweatshirts and other clothing items.

The plaintiff states that it owns federally registered trademarks for “The Science Guy” and has common law trademark rights in the Bill Nye name and mark. Additionally, it argues that it has expended significant resources to protect and display the marks resulting in the marks being widely recognized and world famous. 

The complaint alleges that the defendants have created numerous internet stores and designed them to appear to be selling genuine products offered and sold by the Bill Nye Productions while actually selling inferior imitations. The plaintiff argues that these e-commerce stores are selling unauthorized and unlicensed products and infringing on the plaintiff’s trademarks to trade upon Bill Nye’s reputation and goodwill. 

The complaint purports that the defendants’ websites are estimated to receive tens of millions of visits per year and generate over $135 billion in annual online sales. Further, it states that the defendants have illegitimately optimized their internet stores using search engine optimization and social media spamming to deceive consumers into thinking their products are authorized by the plaintiff. Further, the plaintiff states that the defendants have concealed both their identities and the full scope of their counterfeiting operation to avoid liability. 

Accordingly, the plaintiff filed the complaint alleging trademark infringement and counterfeiting, false designation of origin violation of the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act and common law trademark infringement and seeks a permanent injunction, disgorgement of profits, statutory damages, costs and attorneys’ fees. In addition to the complaint, the plaintiff filed a motion for temporary restraining order including a temporary injunction, transfer of the defendants domain names, a temporary asset restraint, expedited discovery and service of process by email and/or electronic publication.

The plaintiff is represented by Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd