APT wins against ADT

Jury finds no evidence of trademark infringement, fraudulent sales practices
Wednesday, March 11, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY—Alarm Protection Technology (APT) is the victor in its legal battle with residential security giant ADT.

A U.S. District Court jury in West Palm Beach, Fla., decided in two hours in late February that APT, based here, did not infringe upon the name and trademark of ADT, based in Boca Raton, Fla., and that its sales reps did not engage in fraudulent and deceptive sales tactics.

“The jury clearly saw that ADT’s allegations were unfounded and returned a very quick verdict—a verdict that we were certainly expecting and happy about. We did nothing wrong,” Adam Christian, general legal counsel for Alarm Protection Technology, told Security Systems News.

ADT, seeking $27 million in damages, alleged that Alarm Protection Technology’s use of its APT acronym and its logo infringed on ADT’s trademark, Christian said. ADT also alleged that Alarm Protection Technology sales representatives used underhanded sales tactics with regard to the use of the APT acronym, he said.

“The [APT] logo was very dissimilar [to ADT’s]. In fact, our logo had the APT acronym, but it was in the form of a police shield, a security badge. It was a blue shield with a red banner included in the logo. Not only did it include the APT acronym, but the name of the company was spelled out,” Christian said.

ADT employs a blue and white logo in an octagon shape. Its acronym is represented in a different font than APT’s.

As far as sales go, ADT said as part of its case that the use of the “verbal, aural sound” of APT during the course of a sale would cause current ADT customers or potential ADT customers to be confused that APT and ADT were the same company, Christian said. However, he said sales reps always identified themselves as being from Alarm Protection Technology, not APT.

“Because ADT has the largest market share, and they spend $160 million a year on advertising and have been around for 140 years, people are familiar with ADT, and so that’s what they claim would cause the confusion,” he said.

ADT also alleged that APT sales reps were claiming or implying that they were with ADT when they met with customers, Christian said. The jury found APT not guilty of that specific allegation, he said.

ADT, in an emailed statement in response to an SSN inquiry, said it “was disappointed with the verdict concerning trademark infringement.”

ADT, which has sued a number of smaller resi companies over the alleged use of deceptive sales practices over the years, said it was “evaluating further options specific to this case,” and is pursuing another lawsuit against APT “asserting use of deceptive sales practices in their door-to-door sales.”

APT, with 40,000 customers in 18 states, is in the process of getting that lawsuit dismissed, in light of the recent jury decision, Christian said. It also is planning a rebranding in April, including a name change. Read more about that here.