The producer of the popular PBS television show “Antiques Roadshow” is accusing an Athens-based company of illegally trading on the TV program’s name and trademarks. A lawsuit filed by Boston-based WGBH Educational Foundation in federal court in Springfield on Tuesday says Jeffrey A. Parsons, THR & Associates and their operation, Treasure Hunters Roadshow, are usurping the public television show’s goodwill, trademarks and treasure-chest logo.
The producer of the popular PBS television show “Antiques Roadshow” is accusing a local company of illegally trading on the TV program’s name and trademarks.
A lawsuit filed by Boston-based WGBH Educational Foundation in federal court in Springfield on Tuesday says Jeffrey A. Parsons, THR & Associates and their operation, Treasure Hunters Roadshow, are usurping the public television show’s goodwill, trademarks and treasure-chest logo.
The complaint seeks permanent injunctions to keep Parsons and his Athens-based companies from using the terms “Roadshow,” “Treasure Hunters Roadshow” or variations of those terms and to stop THR’s “false and deceptive advertising.” It also seeks all profits Parsons and THR have made as a result of the alleged deception.
Carl Buck, a Chicago-area attorney who represents Parsons and THR, said his clients deny the allegations.
“We’re very different,” he said. “Theirs is more promotional. Ours is a business and a sales thing. We have our own symbols and signs.”
He said Treasure Hunters Roadshow appraises items and offers to buy them if the owner wants to sell them.
“If they don’t, then they can just go on their way,” he said. “The same thing has come up twice before five or six years ago, as I understand it, and that claim went nowhere.”
Each episode of “Antiques Roadshow” features an appraisal event in a different U.S. city. Specialists from leading auction houses or independent appraisers evaluate antiques and collectibles brought in by the public. The show also provides tips on collecting, historical information and visits to cultural sites in the cities.
“Antiques Roadshow” does not buy items, said Judy Matthews, senior publicist for the program.
By contrast, the suit says, THR is “primarily in the business of buying scrap metal.”
THR and Parsons invite people to bring gold, silver, diamonds, coins, antiques and collectibles to sell at events in various cities, the suit says.
“At these events, defendants’ employees purportedly appraise the customers’ valuables and will purchase them on the spot,” the suit says. “Generally, the appraisal is based on nothing more than the weight of the metal.”
The defendants’ use of the term “Roadshow” “has caused and continues to cause confusion,” the suit says.
Lawyers for WGBH also say THR and Parsons “are the subject of numerous complaints for, among other activities, underpaying or undervaluing products, bouncing checks, buying valuable antiques at pennies on the dollar and taking advantage of consumers.”
TV show planned
The suit was filed by attorneys Barbara Solomon and Alexander Greenberg of New York, WGBH Educational Foundation counsel Eric Adam Brass, and Springfield attorney Don Craven.
It also says THR plans to link itself even more directly with “Antiques Roadshow” by developing a television show based on their events to be called “Treasure Hunters Roadshow.” (Treasure Hunters Roadshow’s Web site includes a “pilot” of the television show, which the site says will debut this fall.)
Treasure Hunters Roadshow held an event at the Prairie Capital Convention Center Sept. 22-Sept. 26, 2009. Organizers said they expected attendance of around 6,000 and sales of $500,000.
Chris Dettro can be reached at (217) 788-1510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.