A Boston nonprofit organization that helps low-income, older workers find new jobs has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against a similar nonprofit from Chicago that it says is encroaching on the local organization’s turf.
A Boston nonprofit organization that helps low-income, older workers find new jobs has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against a nonprofit from Chicago that it says is encroaching on the local organization’s turf.
Operation ABLE of Greater Boston filed the suit in Boston federal court last week, asking a judge to block National Able Network from using the acronym “ABLE” in the Boston area.
“Coming in and using our name ... is confusing to our marketplace,” said Jeff Cook, the president of Operation ABLE’s board of directors. “It dilutes a reputation we have built in the state of Massachusetts.”
The two organizations had been business partners, with National Able applying for federal funds and distributing some of them in the Boston area through Operation ABLE. But National Able no longer wanted a subcontractor in the Boston market and decided to open its own office here, Cook said.
Cook said National Able decided to not renew Operation ABLE’s contract for the federal funds, which are used to help subsidize jobs at government and nonprofit agencies for low-income workers over the age of 54 and to help them transition into unsubsidized employment.
However, Operation ABLE provides other programs for older workers in the Boston area with the help of another stream of funds managed by the state government, and it also receives private donations.
Operation ABLE claims National Able started a coordinated effort in April to hijack Operation ABLE’s reputation. Among other things, National Able allegedly sent letters to all of Operation ABLE’s federally funded work sites, saying National Able will assume oversight of the program on July 1.
However, National Able didn’t inform participants that Operation ABLE’s other services that are not funded as a subcontractor of National Able’s would continue, according to the suit. Operation ABLE said National Able’s approach has created widespread confusion among its clients.
A spokeswoman for National Able, which has offices in at least four states, declined to comment about the suit.
Jon Chesto may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.