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HealthNow New York files trademark lawsuit against Tennessee firm

HealthNow New York says the name of a new telemedicine service in Tennessee is virtually identical to its own name and is in violation of the Buffalo-based insurance company’s trademark.

The parent of BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York filed a trademark infringement suit last month in federal district court in Buffalo over the VirtualHealthNow website and mobile application. The suit argues VirtualHealthNow is so similar to HealthNow New York’s name and brand that it would confuse consumers, hurt HealthNow New York’s business and damage the company’s reputation.

HealthNow New York brought the suit against Community Health Systems, a Franklin, Tenn.-based corporation, and its wholly owned subsidiary, CHSPSC.

According to the lawsuit, HealthNow New York has used that name since 1999. The trademark registration was filed in 1998 and it was registered in 2001. The suit contends HealthNow has exclusive rights to use the HealthNow name in commerce.

CHSPSC filed a trademark application for “VIRTUALHEALTHNOW” on July 2, 2015,” according to the suit. CHSPSC operates www.virtualhealthnow.com and www.virtualhealthnow.net. Community Health Systems has VirtualHealthNow apps in the iTunes App Store and in the Google Play Store.

The suit contends that Community Health Systems’ attempt to use the VirtualHealthNow name infringes on that trademark, allows for unfair competition and deceives consumers because its telemedicine service is too similar to the health-related services offered by the insurance company.

HealthNow New York is asking a judge to block Community Health System’s trademark application, issue an injunction barring Community Health Systems from any further acts of trademark infringement or unfair competition, order the destruction of all products and materials that infringe on HealthNow New York’s trademarks, order the transfer of the offending domain names to HealthNow New York, triple damages and triple any revenues or sales Community Health Systems made through its VirtualHealthNow platform.

HealthNow New York spokeswoman Julie Snyder on Friday confirmed the company made the filing to protect its name and brand but said she couldn’t comment further on a pending legal matter.

A message seeking comment left with the media relations office for Community Health Systems wasn’t immediately returned Friday.

email: swatson@buffnews.com