I-Team: Las Vegas businessman victim of trademark bullying - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Las Vegas businessman victim of trademark bullying

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Don Rubenstein Don Rubenstein

LAS VEGAS -- You can trademark, patent and copyright almost anything these days including a gadget, a phrase, or even a color. But, what about a common word? One Las Vegas business owner faces an expensive legal fight over a word most of us use every day.

Former basketball coach Pat Riley trademarked the word "three-peat" and Donald Trump tried trademarking the phrase "you're fired."

Some attorneys claim a company is bullying small business owners by laying claim on the simple word "easy."

Don Rubenstein is kind of a coffee snob. He loves the Farmer Brothers' coffee brand so much he packed his Sun City Summerlin garage with boxes of the stuff and began selling it online.

"I am making a life selling this to people all over the United States. From their Sierra tea to their new Farmer Brothers' teas, to their pancake mix, to their gravy mix, to their biscuit mix, to cappuccino mixes," Rubenstein said.

He calls his garage company Easycoffee. A few months ago, he got a letter from a large national law firm with an unusual claim.

"They owned the trademark to the word easy," Rubenstein said.

The law firm said it represents the British airliner easyJet and threatened to sue Rubenstein if he didn't drop the name Easycoffee.

"The cost of defense is more money than the sales that I generate in a year. I feel defenseless other than standing for what I feel is right," he said.

"If one of my students wrote this letter, they would probably get an F," said Mary LaFrance, a UNLV professor.

She says this legal letter is simple bullying -- filled with errors -- citing repealed laws. LaFrance believes easyJet is going after tiny businesses to build momentum in a legal war with a much bigger company.

"This will strengthen their case when they want to go after a bigger target that can afford to defend itself," LaFrance said. "Such as E-Z Rental car."

The I-Team repeatedly reached out to the law firm of Dickstein and Shapiro over a three-month period to explain their letter, but received no answer.

Meanwhile, Rubenstein is hoping to keep his Easycoffee name.

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