Wharton School sues company for 'cybersquatting,' copyright infringement


The University of Pennsylvania, on behalf of its prestigious Wharton School, has sued a company calling itself Wharton Business Foundation for what the school claims are trademark violations and "cybersquatting."

The company, which lists offices in Beverly Hills, Calif., and Blue Bell, describes itself on its website as "powersourcing and internet marketing experts."

But in a federal court complaint filed this week by the university — whose Wharton School undergraduate program recently dropped in Bloomberg's annual rankings to fifth best nationally — the Wharton Business Foundation's use of Penn's officially trademarked "Wharton" name "is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive ... the goods and services of WBF with The University."

An attempt to call WBF through a 888-number listed on its website proved fruitless as the connection ended after a voice said, "Thank you for calling."

The company website redirects those interested in meeting "our team" to a MySpace page where one employee is listed as a "marketing specialist and karaoke singer" and another is a "consulting agent and aspiring surfer."

Wharton is suing WBF for "cybersquatting" because its website's domain name is "legally identical to The University's 'Wharton' registered trademark," the lawsuit claims.

"The words 'Business Foundation' in WhartonBusinessFoundation.com are merely descriptive of goods and services and do not add to or change the commercial impression created by 'Wharton' in the minds of the consuming public," according to the 18-page complaint filed Wednesday.

Penn has asked for a civil trial by jury.

Contact Brian X. McCrone at 215-854-2267 or bmccrone@philly.com. Follow @brianxmccrone on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.