Gab Sued Dan Bongino and his business partner, Jeffrey Wernick and their company, Liberatio Special Ventures LLC, over their use of the Parallel Economy Trademark. The lawsuit was filed in the Pennsylvania Middle District Court with Judge Joseph F Saporito, Jr and the case number is 3:22-cv-00400.
If you aren’t familiar with Gab, it is an alternative to mainstream social networks, and is well known as being a platform for free speech. The platform includes Gab, Gab TV, Gab Marketplace, Gab Ads, Gab News, Gab Pay and various other business offerings. I have an account on Gab with the handle @paralleleconomies.
In its 23 page lawsuit, Gab sued Dan Bongino citing four counts. Count 1: Trademark Infringement, False Designation of Origin and Unfair Competition Under 15 U.S.C §1125(a). Count 2: Common Law Trademark Infringement, Count 3: Common Law Unfair Competition, Count 4: Unjust Enrichment.
- Count 1: Gab Sued Dan Bongino for Trademark Infringement, False Designation of Origin and Unfair Competition
- Count 2: Gab Sued Dan Bongino for Common Law Trademark Infringement
- Count 3: Gab Sued Dan Bongino for Common Law Unfair Competition
- Count 4: Gab Sued Dan Bongino for Unjust Enrichment
- Request for Relief
- Final Thoughts
Count 1: Gab Sued Dan Bongino for Trademark Infringement, False Designation of Origin and Unfair Competition
In Count 1 of this lawsuit, Gab sued Dan Bongino stating that he has committed trademark infringement against Gab’s trademark. Additionally, Gab claims that Dan Bongino falsely designated the origin of their products and services and competed unfairly with Gab. All of these, they claim are in violation of Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act 15 U.S.C §1125(a).
Gab claims to have begun to use the trademark, “PARALLEL ECONOMY” in April 2021 in commerce in connection with its goods and services. As someone who has been carefully following news about the Parallel Economy, I have noticed that both Dan Bongino and Gab have been utilizing the term for many months. According to the lawsuit, Gab states that it applied for a federal trademark registration before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Ser. No 97201333.
The trademark application above appears to be specifically for the term “GABPAY”, not “PARALLEL ECONOMY”. I am assuming that they are highlighting this trademark application to point out that they have a business offering that provides a service very similar to the one that Dan Bongino started with his new business ParallelEconomy.com. Although, I wasn’t able to actually find the words “PARALLEL ECONOMY” anywhere within that particular trademark application.
In its lawsuit, Gab also highlighted another trademark, Registration No. 6030487. This particular trademark, however, is specifically for the term “Gab”. I was unable to find the term, “PARALLEL ECONOMY” in this trademark either. Additionally, Gab’s lawsuit highlighted Dan Bongino’s trademark application Serial No. 97230320, which is specifically for the term “PARALLEL ECONOMY”. Apparently Dan Bongino also filed an application Serial No. 97230315 for a stylized version of this mark.
Despite the term, “PARALLEL ECONOMY” not being found in these two trademarks, anyone who has been to Gab.com, seen a Gab newsletter, visited the Gab blog, or browsed many of the various businesses that exist on Gab would be able to tell you that Gab has definitely been using the term PARALLEL ECONOMY for a while now and has associated it with many of its various products. One product in particular stands out here and that is GabPay. GabPay and ParallelEconomy.com both are offering a means for individuals to avoid having their ability to collect payments cut off for simply having the wrong political beliefs.
It should also be noted, that despite apparently not having a federal trademark for this term, Gab is establishing the fact that they have been utilizing the term “Parallel Economy” in conjunction with their business offerings for a long time.
Count 2: Gab Sued Dan Bongino for Common Law Trademark Infringement
Gab sued Dan Bongino for his use of “PARALLEL ECONOMY” in marketing, promoting and other activates regarding the products and services identified on its website constitutes common law trademark infringement and is likely to cause consumer confusion. They assert that Gab has built up goodwill under the PARALLEL ECONOMY mark which is of enormous value and that Gab will suffer irreparable harm if infringement was allowed to continue.
I agree that the term “PARALLEL ECONOMY” is enormously valuable. I have been working hard to highlight businesses within the Parallel Economy for months now, so I know how popular this term is. One need only browse my homepage to see that many of the major conservative influencers have been using this term lately. There is a movement afoot and people have begun to be more conscious about where they spend their dollars. They are searching for Parallel Economy alternatives and as this lawsuit points out, there are many people seeking to fill that demand.
One thing to keep in mind here is that I am not a lawyer. I have no training in patent / trademark law. As a layperson, my understanding here is that Gab had begun using the term “PARALLEL ECONOMY” to refer to its products and services as early as April 2021, but that they had not actually filed a trademark application for the term. I am assuming that they are highlighting their use of PARALLEL ECONOMY in their marketing and in combination with their various products as an example of a common law trademark (i.e. not a federal trademark).
This is an interesting argument, because I know that both Gab and Dan Bongino have been using the term “PARALLEL ECONOMY” for a long time now. Dan has been touting the need for a Parallel Economy on his radio show and podcast, while Gab has been applying the term to its business offerings. I don’t know who actually started using the term first. Also, I don’t know whether Dan’s frequent use of the term on his podcast and radio show are somehow applicable to his use of the term in a new business venture, so it will definitely be interesting to see how this all shakes out in the courts.
Count 3: Gab Sued Dan Bongino for Common Law Unfair Competition
Gab sued Dan Bongino for his use of “PARALLEL ECONOMY” in marketing, promoting and other activates regarding the products and services identified on its website is likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception regarding the approval, sponsorship, license, source or origin of Gab’s products which constitutes unfair competition in violation of common law.
This again is an interesting argument. As someone who has been following developments in the Parallel Economy, I have been admiring the work of both Gab’s Andrew Torba and Dan Bongino from afar. Being well versed in the ongoings within the Parallel Economy, I just naturally assumed that the concept of the Parallel Economy was more of a catch phrase. A generalized term that people were using in reference to businesses that promoted freedom, and eschewed wokeness in all its forms.
It didn’t occur to me that anyone would trademark the term, nor that people were vying to affiliate their businesses with the phrase “PARALLEL ECONOMY” until Dan Bongino actually launched a website by that name. I did notice that Gab had been utilizing the term PARALLEL ECONOMY in various formats, but wasn’t aware that they were assuming a trademark of some sort for the term. I just assumed that this was a new economy that we were all trying to build and that the term “Parallel Economy” was a common phrase we were all using to reference it. Apparently, I was somewhat naïve in that aspect.
Count 4: Gab Sued Dan Bongino for Unjust Enrichment
Gab sued Dan Bongino for Unjust Enrichment. This count is pretty short. Basically it asserts that because of the previously highlighted counts, Dan Bongino (and business / partner) has been unjustly enriched. I have no idea to what extent this “enrichment” has occurred, but presumably Dan has made some money in this latest venture. An interesting fact that was found in the lawsuit, is that Gab has actually generated revenue amounting to upwards of $1,000,000 from products and services that it offers in connection with the term “PARALLEL ECONOMY”.
Clearly there is a lot of money to be made in the Parallel Economy and it’s not hard to see why Gab sued Dan Bongino over the rights to this term. They have both been utilizing this term for a while now, so it would appear that Gab sued Dan Bongino to establish itself as the primary advocate of the Parallel Economy.
Request for Relief
Obviously, if Gab sued Dan Bongino, they did so in order to obtain something for their trouble. In this case, the first thing that they are asking for is an injunction restraining Dan Bongino and his associates from using the PARALLEL ECONOMY mark in any manner and from “competing unfairly” with Gab.
They are also asking for an accounting of all gains, profits, savings and advantages realized by Bongino and that Gab be awarded treble profits due to the wrongful acts engaged in by the plaintiffs. Additionally, Gab claims it is entitled to damages as well as three times the amount found as actual damages. Also, they are asking for defendants to pay to Gab all damages suffered as a result of the “unlawful acts” and that Gab should be paid any profits realized by the defendants. There is actually a number of requests for damages to be paid up to an including payment for Gab’s attorney’s fees, costs and expenses. There are too many to list here.
The fact that Gab sued Dan Bongino came as quite a shock to me. I had indeed noticed the fact that both Gab’s Andrew Torba and Dan Bongino have been using the term Parallel Economy for a while, but I didn’t really see a lawsuit coming. I actually really look up to both of these guys because I think they are both doing great work in support of the Parallel Economy. I feel that creating a Parallel Economy is really the only way that conservatives are going to be able to move forward in the age of Cancel Culture.
It saddens me that these two people that I admire are going head to head like this. I feel like we all need to work together and that this infighting is not really helping the cause. However, I am also aware that business is business. Sometimes it can be cutthroat. This isn’t a kids soccer match where everyone gets a participation trophy. We compete; some win and some lose. It’s a high stakes game and someone will come out on top.
I’m not picking a side in this fight, because I think that both of these guys are doing amazing work in the Parallel Economy. But Andrew Torba’s Gab sued Dan Bongino and we’ll have to wait and see where the chips fall. No matter who comes out on top, the higher goal of building a Parallel Economy remains. Let’s hope this case doesn’t reduce the momentum that this Parallel Economy movement has built up.