|For Immediate Release
Case # 00106596
May 19, 2008
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
OCDA OBTAINS CONSUMER PROTECTION SETTLEMENT AGAINST COMPANY FOR
COMMITTING NAME-PIRACY AGAINST
ORANGE COUNTY BUSINESSES
SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney’s Office obtained a consumer protection settlement today against a Tustin-based company for intentionally committing name-piracy against several Orange County businesses. The action was signed today by the Honorable Derek Hunt against FBN Sales & Services Corporation (FBN), company President Kenneth Dwayne Meadows, and his father, company Vice-President Kenneth Ray Meadows. The defendants were forced to abandon all rights to the pirated names and as part of the settlement were ordered to cease and desist all name-piracy practices, are prohibited from engaging in any other unfair business practices, and must pay restitution to any businesses that provide proof that they incurred any fees or costs as a result of the piracy of their business name. The defendants are also ordered to pay $3,000 in civil penalties to the County and to cover the cost of investigation and prosecution.
Active businesses in Orange County can file a fictitious business name statement with the Orange County Clerk-Recorder’s Office if the business wishes to operate under a name other than their official business name. Each fictitious business name filed with the County must be used in a legitimate business capacity and a separate filing must be completed for each physical location to utilize a fictitious name. These filings expire and must be re-filed every five years.
Between December 2006 and July 2007, Meadows and Meadows acted as the President and Vice President of FBN, which was originally called “The Name Pirate.” The defendants would search through County records for expired fictitious name statements belonging to legitimate Orange County businesses. Meadows and Meadows would then file a fictitious name statement with the County, falsely claiming to do business under the expired names. The defendants filed hundreds of statements and claimed that all of the names were operating out of one business location in Tustin. Victims included Oakley, Knott’s Berry Farm, Harley Davidson of Orange County, Porsche of Newport Beach, and several other Orange County businesses.
After fraudulently filing fictitious name statements under the pretense of doing business under each name, the defendants sent letters to several victims informing them that FBN had obtained the legal right to “exclusively” use the victim’s business name. They instructed the victims to cease and desist using the business name or pay $995 to FBN to regain the right to their own name.
This unfair business practice was prosecuted before any of the victimized businesses paid the $995 that FBN requested, but at least two businesses hired attorneys to review the matter.
Deputy District Attorney Lesley Young of the Consumer Protection Unit is prosecuting this case.