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Rent-to-own company sues Roanoke's Primetime Rentals

Rent-to-own company sues Roanoke's Primetime Rentals

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A Roanoke-based rent-to-own company was sued in federal court Monday by a competitor who alleges its trademark slogans and logos were ripped off.

Among other things, Aaron Investment Co. and Aaron Rents Inc. allege that Primetime Rentals stole their slogan "Do the Math" and turned it into "Really Do the Math."

Aaron Investment Co., which is based in Delaware but operates three stores in Roanoke and the New River Valley, is claiming unfair competition, trademark infringement and false advertising.

Stephen Athanson, general counsel for ABC Television and Appliance Rental, the parent company of Primetime, said the company was just served with the lawsuit on Monday and was not yet prepared to respond.

ABC Television and Appliance Rental is based in Northeast Roanoke and operates 30 Primetime stores in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and West Virginia, according to Primetime Vice President Kendall Austin.

"Do the Math" is a phrase owned by Aaron Investment, as are the phrases "Aaron's Sales and Lease Ownership for Less" and the term "Dream Machine" in reference to appliances offered for sale or lease by its stores, the lawsuit states.

Primetime Rentals is accused of using slogans that are "confusingly similar," such as "Really Do the Math" and "Sales and Lease Purchase for Less," said Stephen Schaetzel, an Atlanta attorney representing Aaron Investment. Primetime has also used "Dream Machine" to describe its appliances, the lawsuit states.

In addition, Aaron Investment claims in the lawsuit that Primetime Rentals has misstated Aaron's prices and used a circular logo that copies its "Own It" design.

The plaintiffs have not asked for a specific amount in damages, but under federal trademark infringement law, violators can be ordered to pay triple the amount of lost profits.

Along with the lawsuit, Aaron Investment Co. and Aaron Rents Inc. filed a motion for a preliminary injunction that would restrain Primetime Rentals from using any phrases or logos similar to theirs.

The injunction also requests that Primetime be compelled to deliver all products, bags, boxes, signs and other items that infringe on Aaron's copyright so that those items can be destroyed.

No ruling has yet been made on that motion.

Athanson said ABC Television and Appliance Rental will respond to the lawsuit soon.

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