Erie Insurance Exchange filed a complaint Monday alleging that it has no duty to defend or indemnify a financial planning company facing claims in federal court for willfully infringing a rival’s marketing slogan trademarks. According to Erie, their policy explicitly precludes coverage for claims of infringement of copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret. Jalinski Advisory Group, Inc. has been marketing itself as “the financial quarterback” since 2009, and it formally registered “financial quarterback” as a trademark in April 2010.
However, Franklin Retirement, Erie’s insured, started to brand itself as “your financial quarterback,” which Jalinski alleges is indirect violation of the trademarks. Erie agreed to represent Franklin under a reservation of its rights; however, Erie ultimately denied coverage. Now, Erie seeks a Pennsylvania state judge to free it from providing coverage.
With regard to trademark litigation, it’s all about the litigation fees, since defense of trademark infringement is very fact-specific, time-consuming, and expensive. (Dennis Wade’s “This and That” from January 4, 2019 also focused on trademark litigation, and the ensuing expense.)
Does use of the term “Your Financial Quarterback” constitute copyright infringement? The only certainty is that the answer to the question will be expensive. Thanks to Melisa Buchowiec for her contribution to this post. Please email Brian Gibbons with any questions.