Buffett sues over alleged trademark violation


GALVESTON, Texas -- Jimmy Buffett has filed a lawsuit alleging that a Galveston merchant is unlawfully using his trademark to sell goods at an online store.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court, seeks to shut down Robert Akard's Web site, http://www.underonehut.com. The lawsuit claims the Web site falsely represents itself as "Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Online Store for Merchandise."

A lawyer for Buffett said part of the problem is that some items on the Web site, which sells clothing and beach-themed novelties, are overpriced.

"Many of these products are ones (Akard is) not even authorized to sell, but primarily, the problem is that, in some cases, the markup on items is as high as 50 percent," lawyer Anthony Buzbee said. "Jimmy Buffett's not in business to make money, certainly not anymore, and he doesn't appreciate what this guy's been doing."

Songs recorded by Buffett, 59, include "Margaritaville," "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" and "Cheeseburger in Paradise."

Akard's attorney, Darrell Apffel, said he would "vigorously oppose" Buffett's efforts.

He said Buffett is a financial empire trying to shut down a small business, calling the complaint "a classic case of David versus Goliath."

Akard had already modified his Web site in response to complaints from Buffett's lawyers regarding what they said were implied ties between the site and the singer, Apffel said.

"After taking these steps, in good faith, to comply with these requests, Jimmy Buffett then sought a restraining order to shut down the site, without any warning to Mr. Akard or myself, as his attorney," Apffel said.

The site remained online Tuesday. Apffel said neither he nor Akard had been given notice of a restraining order.

A federal judge in Nevada shut down Akard's last Web site related to Jimmy Buffett, which was called parrotsofthecaribbean.com.