Contact for further information
|Niraj Baxi, President, NFIA||(408) 973-9161|
|Rajen Anand, President-elect, NFIA||(562) 537-1077|
|Pramod Kamdar, Vice President, NFIA||(858) 538-0666|
Los Angeles. After more than eight months of litigation between the National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA), which is currently headed by Niraj Baxi anda similarly-named group comprised of Ramesh Patel, Anna Prasad, Bhailal Patel, Govind Vaghashia and others, the NFIA has again prevailed in the Courts. In accordance with the February 5, 2004 Stipulated Final Judgment and Order for Permanent Injunction, the defendants are permanently restrained from using the name of National Federation of Indian American Associations, NFIA, its logo, or any other similarly confusing name, including the North American Federation of Indian Associations (NAFIA). The Court also required the breakaway group to pay $20,000 to NFIA to partially cover its attorneys’ fees. The amount has already been paid.
Baxi, the current president of NFIA said, “ I am pleased by the outcome of this lawsuit, but I wish we did not have to go through it. Having a conflict with our own people is not a pleasant task, but we were left with no choice except to defend the identity of our 24- year old organization.” He added, “It is time to move forward energetically and enthusiastically in pursuing our common goals and objectives and I would like to see all people join us in effectively serving the community, the primary role of NFIA.”
According to Baxi the breakaway group had used the NFIA name, without permission, since 1998. “The officers of this group were asked to refrain from using the NFIA name on multiple occasions through legal letters sent by our attorneys. However, these requests were totally ignored,” explained Baxi.
In May 2003, the defendants (Ramesh Patel et al) advertised in newspapers that it was holding 12th biennial convention under the name of NFIA in Chicago, IL, May 25-27, and set up a website with the list of officers purportedly belonging to NFIA. The legitimate NFIA, an umbrella organization of various associations from all over the United States, had already held its 12th biennial convention in October 2002 in Detroit MI. Concerned about the grave confusion in the community generated by defendants’ attempted theft of NFIA’s identity, the NFIA demanded that defendants cease and desist from violating the NFIA’s duly registered federal trademark filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by the NFIA’s previous president, Haresh Pancha
When it was clear that defendants would not refrain from using NFIA’s identity, the NFIA filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court (Case No. SA-CV 03-779) on May 20, 2003, and were granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) preventing defendants use of the NFIA name or its logo. On July 6, 2003, the Court granted NFIA’s Preliminary Injunction, restraining defendants from using the NFIA name.
Defendants filed a counter lawsuit against the NFIA, alleging claim for cancellation of the NFIA’s federal trademark. The Court dismissed defendants’ claim on October 6, 2003, with a leave to amend. On October 26, 2003, Defendants (Ramesh Patel and Anna Prasad et al) voluntarily withdrew their counter claim and subsequent discussion between parties resulted in defendants agreeing to the terms of the Final Judgment, including the payment of $20,000.
President-elect of NFIA, Rajen Anand, told this newspaper, “We have prevailed in this lawsuit, for the truth was on our side. However, we do not derive any pleasure in fighting this court battle. The individuals in the breakaway group are our own people, who have worked with us in the past and we look forward to working with them in the future. I hope we all have learned some significant lessons from this expensive endeavor.”
Parthasarthy Pillai, the Chairman of the NFIA Foundation, said, “I am happy to see the end of this legal action. It is time to move on and continue to perform service in the interest of the community.”
Baxi said, “it is time for NFIA to put this lawsuit behind and pursue our national agenda now.” “NFIA will continue to address issues related to immigration, visas and hate crimes promote participation of individuals in the mainstream politics, strengthen US-India relations, and deal with concerns of our seniors, women and youth,” remarked Baxi.
|May 2003||Ramesh Patel, Ana Prasad and Bhailal Group announced 12th Biennial Convention, under the name of NFIA, to be held in Chicago, IL on the Memorial Day weekend. The NFIA already held its 12th biennial convention in October 2002 in Detroit, MI. A website with names and pictures of officers appeared on the Internet.|
|May 12, 2003||NFIA Attorneys wrote a letter to each one of the officers listed on the Website requesting them not to use the name and logo of NFIA and not call the convention 12th biennial. The letter was ignored by everyone. No reply was received by the deadline (May 19).|
|May 21, 2003||NFIA was granted Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against Ramesh Patel et al ordering them to cease the use of NFIA. The Hotel at which the convention was being held was told to remove all banners, flyers, souvenirs etc bearing the name of NFIA. The Group changed its name as North American Federation of Indian Associations (NAFIA).|
|June 7, 2003||Court Hearings were held in Los Angeles. The Defendant’s attorney promised to cooperate with the Plaintiff and instruct his clients not to use the NFIA name or any confusingly similar names. He asked for continuation of the hearing. The Judge granted a 30-day continuation.|
|July 6, 2003||The Defendants changed their attorney and asked for another continuation of the case. The Judge denied their request.|
|July 15, 2003||The Court issued Preliminary Injunction in line with the Temporary Restraining Order against Ramesh Patel et al.|
|July 18, 2003||The Defendants file a Counter Lawsuit against the individual officers of NFIA, charging them with fraud.|
|August 18, 2003||Amended Counter Lawsuit by the Defendants was filed.|
|October 6, 2003||The Court dismissed Counter Lawsuit filed by Ramesh Patel, Ana Prasad and Bhailal and Govind Vaghashia gr oup in the Court of Judge Harry L. Hupp.|
|November 17, 2003||A settlement Conference was held in the Court of Magistrate Marc Goldman. Ana Prasad and Govind Vaghashia were present. The Court ordered the Defendants to settle the case and make a partial payment of the Plaintiffs attorney fees before January 9, 2004 or everyone appear before the Court on that day.|
|January 9, 2004||All the Defendants, including Ramesh Patel, Bhailal Patel, Ana Prasad, Govind Vaghashia, and others, except two signed the Consent Decree after amending it to remove the FIA and term it as settlement instead of Judgement. Money received.|
|January 23, 2004||Each of the Defendants signed the Consent Decree. The papers were submitted to the Court.|