PMMI Declares Lawsuit Victory Against Fake List Vendor
Bogus attendee list vendors may think twice before soliciting PACK EXPO exhibitors again. In early June, PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, belatedly announced its Feb. 23 lawsuit victory against Data Marketers Inc. for trademark infringement, false association advertising and unfair competition. Operating under the name LogiChannel, the data and marketing services company illegally used PACK EXPO’s logo in email solicitations a month prior to the September 2019 Las Vegas trade show in attempts to sell fake attendee lists to the show’s exhibitors.
PMMI decided to delay the announcement to June 10 due to COVID-19, according to association officials.
PMMI originally filed the complaint against LogiChannel with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Jan. 15 after discovering it had used the PACK EXPO logo without permission and was otherwise misrepresenting itself as the official event producer, according to PMMI officials.
In the judgment, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, III ordered Data Marketers to permanently refrain from advertising, offering or selling any goods or services using PACK EXPO logo designs and trademarks. The company was also ordered to pay damages and attorney’s fees.
“This order represents a victory for associations and other trade show organizers that find themselves victims of trademark infringement and unauthorized vendors attempting to sell fake lists and other services,” said Laura Thompson, vice president of trade shows for PMMI. “Trade show exhibitors have a right to know the relationship between a company and the event producer when doing business. The circumstances are a sad commentary on the state of the ethics and conduct of some individuals and businesses.”
For more than a decade, fraudulent attendee list sales scams have become a common occurrence with large industry conferences and trade shows. According to IAEE President and CEO David DuBois, associations in particular are often targeted by rogue list brokers. Scammers use technology to illegally harvest attendee and exhibitor email addresses on an event website, then use the information to solicit unknowing exhibitors.
"The trade show community will not tolerate improprieties in this area."
“The goal of these bogus attendee list vendors is to aggregate and use public information in order to sell lists for profits – they don’t care about protecting the personal information nor the brand of the event,” DuBois said. “It is a bigger issue for association versus corporate events because associations are more willing to be public about their attendee and exhibitor lists [to] expand their participant audiences.”
To combat this problem, DuBois suggested that instead of using (often ineffective) cease-and-desist letters, show organizers should instead regularly remind event participants that only their organization can offer legitimate lists or access to their show’s attendees.
With the lawsuit now over, PMMI isn’t being complacent about what many in the events industry view as an unrelenting scourge. The association is continuing to warn and educate PACK EXPO participants about predatory companies falsely representing themselves as official trade show suppliers.
“This [lawsuit victory] is a win not only for PMMI and the PACK EXPO portfolio of trade shows but for all trade show organizers,” said Jim Pittas, PMMI’s president and CEO. “This latest court order sends a signal to all unauthorized vendors attempting to pass themselves off as legitimate trade show organizers and deceive exhibitors and other suppliers. The trade show community will not tolerate improprieties in this area.”