This Is Not the ‘Altruist’ You are Searching for: Michigan RIA Sues for Trademark Infringement


What You Have to Know

  • Altruist Monetary Advisors LLC says it has owned the Altruist trademark since 2001.
  • Its CEO, Eric Haas, says investor knowledge and funds supposed for the California-based funding platform have mistakenly landed at his agency.
  • The California agency, Altruist Corp., says allegations of trademark infringement are with out advantage.

A Michigan monetary advisory agency that has filed a trademark lawsuit in opposition to funding platform Altruist Corp. contends confusion over the companies’ related names has resulted in buyers’ private info and funds mistakenly touchdown at his agency.

“We’ve documented many dozen cases of ‘precise confusion,’” mentioned Eric Haas, CEO of Altruist Monetary Advisors LLC, an RIA in Holland, Michigan, that filed the criticism, in a current information launch.

“Maybe the problem of best concern is that mother and pop buyers who’ve put their cash and belief with the (Altruist brokerage platform, based mostly in Culver Metropolis, California) are having their private info mistakenly divulged to us — names, Social Safety numbers, dates of start, account numbers, and so forth.,” Haas mentioned. “We’ve even had checks mistakenly despatched to us.”

California-based startup Altruist lately raised $112 million in funding to assist it turn out to be a significant competitor within the RIA custodial providers market. Individuals within the Sequence D spherical embrace Perception Companions, Adams Road Companions, ex-Vanguard CEO and Chairman Invoice McNabb, Carson Group founder and CEO Ron Carson and Mariner Wealth Advisors President and CEO Marty Bicknell.

Whole funding for the platform, which is positioning itself as a substitute for Charles Schwab, exceeds $290 million.

Haas’ agency, in a lawsuit filed final 12 months, contends the Michigan advisory has owned the Altruist trademark since 2001 and has had its trademark registered with the federal authorities for 20 years. His agency had $252 million in property beneath administration at year-end 2022.

The agency’s lawsuit contends that Jason Wenk, who based the Altruist digital platform in 2018, contacted him in early 2019 about acquiring a license for the Altruist trademark. Though Haas refused, Wenk and his firm used the identify anyway, based on the advisor, whose agency filed go well with in opposition to the platform and associated entities in U.S. District Courtroom in Michigan in June 2022.

Haas’ agency asserts federal trademark counterfeiting, trademark infringement, unfair competitors and cybersquatting claims, in addition to Michigan state regulation violations. He alleged a number of cases of precise confusion between his agency and the California Altruist operation, totaling 21 cases when his agency filed go well with.

In a single occasion, a 401(ok) administrator despatched Haas’ agency checks for over $25,000 of a person investor’s cash, believed to be a consumer of the California Altruist platform, based on a courtroom doc.

Haas’s agency additionally contends there is confusion between itself and the defendant firm in search outcomes on the Monetary Business Regulatory Authority’s public BrokerCheck database and in Google search outcomes.

In February, the choose denied California-based Altruist’s partial movement to dismiss the case.


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