$6m lawsuit against Web Summit

Elliott Bisnow of Summit Series sues Paddy Cosgrave over ‘deceptively similar’ name

Paddy Cosgrave: denies allegations of unfair competition, cybersquatting, and deceptive business practices

Paddy Cosgrave: denies allegations of unfair competition, cybersquatting, and deceptive business practices

Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 08:34

Web Summit, the annual technology jamboree, and its founder Paddy Cosgrave (31) are in settlement talks to avoid a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed against them in the US.

Mr Cosgrave and two companies behind the RDS summit, which attracts an international who’s who of technology and media entrepreneurs, are being sued by a company owned by Elliott Bisnow (28), a US millionaire who founded the Summit Series, a rival annual event for young entrepreneurs.

Mr Bisnow, whose conferences have attracted speakers such as Bill Clinton, has accused Mr Cosgrave of “deceptively” promoting his Dublin event as The Summit and encroaching on its trademark rights.

Mr Cosgrave’s Dublin event, which attracts celebrities such as Bono and will host about 20,000 people in November, was launched in 2009* as the Dublin Web Summit. In 2012 it changed to Web Summit and, during last year’s event, it announced a name change to The Summit.

In February this year, Mr Bisnow wrote to Mr Cosgrave, who he had previously discussed a partnership with, and asked him to change the name back.

Alleged ‘cybersquatting’

When he got no response, he filed a lawsuit against Web Summit and Mr Cosgrave in Nevada. In documents filed with the courts, he is demanding at least $6 million (€4.48m) plus punitive damages for alleged “unfair competition, cybersquatting, and deceptive business practices”, which Web Summit and Mr Cosgrave deny. They have also filed a dismissal motion.

On Tuesday Mr Cosgrave, in a blog, said the name is changing back to Web Summit. The organisers of the Dublin event would not comment on the court case with Mr Bisnow, but insisted the latest name change was made for other reasons.

“The stages are being expanded to include a music, a sport stage as well as a food summit. We had changed the name to The Summit to reflect this wider focus. However it has become clear that the Web Summit has a very strong legacy and branding ” said a spokeswoman. “We’ve also found that, at a most basic level, ‘The Summit’ is so generic a term that on search engines it can be hard to find us.”

- This article was amended on August 19th, 2014