United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
SERVANT VENTURES, INC., d/b/a GAZELLES INTERNATIONAL COACHES, Plaintiff,
GAZELLES, INC., and GAZELLES FL, INC., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Servant Ventures,
Inc.'s (“SVI”) motion for temporary
restraining order (Dkt. 6). The Court has considered the
pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion
and the remainder of the file and hereby grants in part and
denies in part the motion for the reasons stated herein.
April 6, 2018, SVI, doing business as Gazelles International
Coaches, filed a complaint against Defendants Gazelles FL,
Inc., and Gazelles, Inc. (“Gazelles”) in Clark
County Superior Court for the State of Washington. Dkt. 1-1.
SVI asserts causes of action for breach of contract,
promissory estoppel, tortious interference with contract, and
defamation. Id. SVI seeks preliminary and permanent
injunctive relief. Id.
April 25, 2018, Gazelles removed the matter to this Court.
April 26, 2018, SVI filed a motion for temporary restraining
order. Dkt. 6. On April 28, 2018, Gazelles responded. Dkt.
12. On April 30, 2018, SVI replied. Dkt. 16. On May 1, 2018,
Gazelles filed a surreply moving to strike SVI's
reply. Dkt. 20.
2, 2018, Gazelles filed a motion to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction. Dkt. 22.
matter arises out of an alleged oral contract between the
principal of SVI, Keith Cupp, and the owner of Gazelles,
Verne Harnish. The contract involves the licensing of Mr.
Harnish's intellectual property relating to the
“books, programs, and curriculums specializing in
leadership, strategic planning, and growth for individuals
and companies looking to succeed and scale up in the business
world.” Dkt. 1-4, ¶ 4. For example, Gazelles
registered the trademark “GAZELLES” in 2002 for
educational services in the field of business strategic
planning. Dkt. 1-3, ¶ 9. Mr. Harnish licensed this
property to Mr. Cupp for use in training business coaches
and, in return, Mr. Cupp would give Mr. Harnish one-third of
2010, Mr. Cupp incorporated SVI doing business as Gazelles
International. Mr. Harish declares that he was unaware that
Mr. Cupp formed SVI. Dkt. 1-4, ¶ 6. It seems that from
2010 to 2017, Mr. Cupp would recruit and sign business
coaches with a contract stating that Mr. Cupp was President
of Gazelles International. Dkt. 17-1. In 2018, Mr. Cupp
apparently began to use contracts with his coaches that moved
away from the Gazelles brand and focused more on SVI as a
business. Mr. Harish was informed of this, and the
parties' relationship began to sour. Despite the strained
relationship, Mr. Cupp declares that he paid the quarterly
dues to license the intellectual property for the second
quarter of 2018. Dkt. 7. Based upon the current record, it is
undisputed that the license agreement has not been
to the instant motion, both companies are organizing seminars
in New Orleans for mid-May 2018. SVI's coaches summit is
scheduled immediately prior to Gazelles so that SVI's
coaches may stay and attend Gazelles' summit. SVI has
submitted uncontested evidence that Mr. Harish has contacted
SVI's coaches and expressly urged them not to sign the
2018 SVI agreement. Dkt. 1-3, ¶ 18. Mr. Cupp also
declares that Mr. Harnish has stated that Gazelles retains
the authority to approve or cancel contracts between SVI and
its coaches. Id. Moreover, SVI has submitted
uncontested evidence that Mr. Harish has (1) interfered with
at least two speakers that SVI had booked for SVI's New
Orleans seminar and (2) may have interfered with SVI's
hotel and conference facility requiring SVI to switch
facilities at the last minute. Id. ¶¶
plaintiff seeking preliminary relief must establish that she
is likely to succeed on the merits, that she is likely to
suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief,
that the balance of equities tips in her favor, and that an
injunction is in the ...