Sacramento Public Library Authority Sues Private Foundation for Fraud, False Advertising and Trademark Infringement

The Library Authority seeks a court-appointed receiver to operate the Sacramento Public Library Foundation, return funds and control management of endowments.
March 31, 2020

The Sacramento Public Library Authority today sued the unaffiliated Sacramento Public Library Foundation, alleging it defrauded donors and engaged in false advertising and trademark infringement. The Authority is asking the court to appoint a receiver to operate the Foundation and control management of the Foundation’s donor-funded endowments.
 
The Library Authority today also filed an opposition before the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, objecting to the Foundation’s application to register the mark “Sacramento Public Library Foundation.”
 
“The Sacramento Public Library has served the community since 1857,” said Library Director and Authority CEO Rivkah Sass. “Unfortunately, there exists in Sacramento a separate entity, not affiliated with the Library, which has tried to appropriate our name and use our hard-earned reputation for its own aggrandizement. It has deceived donors and sought to control millions of dollars in endowments meant for the Library.”
 
“We regret that our relationship with the Foundation has reached this point, but we have no choice if we are true to our commitment to protect the Library, donors and the Sacramento community.”
 
The complaint filed in federal court against the Foundation, its Executive Director, April Javist, and President James Deeringer, alleges that:
 
The Foundation has promoted its own activities and programs, while using the Library’s name and Mark (“SACRAMENTO PUBLIC LIBRARY”) without the Library’s permission or written consent as required by law.

  • The Foundation has acted with impunity to misrepresent itself to donors and the Sacramento community, flouting the purpose for which it was founded of supporting the Library. Despite the Library’s demands, the Foundation has refused to cease such misrepresentations.
  • The Foundation has refused to license its use of the Library’s Mark and scoffed when asked not to use the Mark to raise money for non-library programs and activities. Without informing the Library, the Foundation filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to register the Library’s Mark.  The Foundation refused the Library’s demand to abandon its registration efforts and has renewed its application, doubling down on its wrongdoing.
  • The Foundation has pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars in unrestricted donations for its operations as well as funding its own “operations endowment.” This has deprived the Library of critical funds intended to benefit the Library, instead using them to support the Foundation’s priorities, operations and non-library programs.

 
The Library is asking the court to order the Foundation to cease using the Library’s Mark, appoint a receiver to operate the Foundation, and for the Foundation to pay damages.

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