Recently I wrote about a BS mailer from some company called Record Transfer Service and it was called a Deed Processing Notice. My objection was the mailer was offering consumers a copy of their deed, many can get online for free.
Well it seems the bad blood of this effort extended back to 2012 when one party, Secured Document Services sued Brian Pascal and Secured Document Retrieval Services for stealing their idea.
In the lawsuit filed:
“Defendant Brian Pascal, through the entities he controls, has made a verbatim copy of Plaintiff Secured Document Services’ (“SDS”) advertising mailer (the “Mailer” ) — which is subject to federal copyright protection — and disseminated his infringing mailer to potential consumers, in order to advertise and promote the identical services offered by SDS. Pascal’s unauthorized copying, reproduction and public distribution of the Mailer (including its text, design, and layout) constitutes copyright infringement and unfair competition.” – Source
“Defendant Brian Pascal was previously affiliated with SDS (or its related companies). Pascal now seeks to compete with SDS. But rather than compete fairly and lawfully in the marketplace, Pascal has embarked on a deliberate strategy of copyright and trademark infringement, deception, and capitalizing on SDS’ intellectual properties and goodwill.”
“But it gets worse. SDS is informed and believes that Pascal’s purported businesses do not even offer the deed retrieval services that are claimed on its infringing mailer. SDS is further informed and believes that, as a result of lawsuits filed by various state Attorneys General, Pascal is barred from providing such services (at least in certain states) because of prior illegal conduct. Instead, SDS is informed and believes that Secured Document’s entire business is based on &aud — i.e., using SDS’ copyrighted form and its trademark to induce consumers to send payment for deed retrieval services that were intended for Secured Document Services, cashing such checks, and then not providing any services to them.”
So the guy that came up with the mailer I felt was deceptive was suing the other guy that stole the deceptive mailer? Priceless.
But wait, there’s more. Apparently Neil Camenker who was so bloody pissed over having his mailer ripped off was also the subject of a 2011 State of Washington consent decree about charging consumers for a copy of their deed.
The State of Washington warned consumers:
“Dirty deed seller must clean up act, Attorney General announces
Settlement requires refunds for Washington residents who bought deed copies from “State Record Retrieval Board”
SPOKANE – The “State Record Retrieval Board” notice mailed to Washington residents last year directed them pay $87 to obtain a copy of their property deed, or face an $35 fee if they missed the tight deadline. At least 45 of the 5,000 Washington residents who received the notice dutifully sent checks. But the Washington Attorney General’s Office says they were misled – and are owed refunds.
“The notices were deceptive junk mail designed to trick people into buying something they don’t need,” said Assistant Attorney General Jack Zurlini. “Even if there were a government agency named the ‘State Record Retrieval Board’ – which there isn’t – it wouldn’t charge you $87 for a property deed.”
The Olympia address on the mailers is just a UPS Store drop box – the real sender is a California-based business that’s spread similar notices across the nation. “State Record Retrieval Board” is owned by Neil L. Camenker and has an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau. After the Attorney General’s Office issued a warning about the mailers on its All Consuming blog in December 2010, a number of readers chimed in that they, too, received the deceptive mailers and were considering sending money.
The Attorney General’s Office took Camenker and his company to court and today announced a settlement that ensures the defendants won’t be mailing any more solicitations in Washington that include misrepresentations or make consumers feel compelled to respond. They’ll pay $3,915 in consumer refunds plus $1,085 to reimburse the state for attorneys’ fees and legal costs. The defendants also face $15,000 in civil penalties, should they fail to comply with the settlement’s restrictions on their business practices.
The Attorney General’s Office notes that should you need a copy of your property deed for some reason, you can pick one up for about $10 from your county auditor.”
And that lawsuit between Neil Camenker and Brian Pascal, it seems Pascal lost. The court said, “On January 7, 2013, the Court issued its Scheduling and Case Management Order (“CMO”), which, among other things, ordered the parties to participate in a private mediation by April 2, 2013. On April 4, 2013, Plaintiff filed its Report Re Settlement/Mediation, which detailed Pascal’s failure to cooperate in scheduling the mediation, including the fact that the defendants’ counsel advised Plaintiff’s counsel that Pascal was “uninterested” in participating in mediation.
On April 5, 2013, the Court issued an Order to Show cause Re Sanctions for Defendants’ Failure to Cooperate in Scheduling Mediation (“Order to Show Cause”), which ordered the Defendants “to show cause in writing by April 12, 2013 why the Court should not impose sanctions against Defendants, including striking their answer and entering default against them for their failure to cooperate in scheduling the mediation before the Court-ordered deadline of April 2, 2013.” Pascal failed to respond to the Court’s Order to Show Cause. As a result, on April 25, 2013, the Court issued an order striking the defendants’ answer and entering the defendants’ default for their failure to respond to the Order to Show Cause. In that Order, the Court specifically found that “Pascal has deliberately decided not to participate in this action” and that the defendants’ failure to respond to the Court’s Order to Show Cause and participate in the scheduling of the mediation “was willful and in bad faith.” On May 23, 2013, the Court granted Plaintiff’s motion for default judgment, and entered judgment against all the defendants, including Pascal.” – Source