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Beauty pageant operator sues to regain control

Suit claims licensee took over operation

By: Bennett Loudon//August 14, 2018

Beauty pageant operator sues to regain control

Suit claims licensee took over operation

By: Bennett Loudon//August 14, 2018//

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A Rochester woman who operates several beauty pageants is suing a Virginia company for trademark infringement and numerous other claims.

Rochester-based Mrs. United States National Pageant Inc. filed the suit Monday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York.

The defendants — Stephanie L. Williams, Crown Garland LLC, and Cosmos International Pageants Inc. — are accused of “misappropriating plaintiff’s intellectual property” and “causing consumer, contestant and spectator confusion.”

The suit also accuses the defendants of “unlawfully and egregiously interfering with plaintiff’s business relationships and contracts with sub-licensees, sponsors, and customers.”

Crown Garland and Cosmos International Pageants are both owned and operated by Stephanie L. Williams, who lives in Bristol, Va., according to the 50-page complaint.

Mrs. United States National Pageant Inc. is one of at least nine trademarked pageants operated for the past 32 years by Isabella Ilacqua, of Rochester. In addition to Mrs. United States National Pageant, the trademarks include:

  • United States
  • Little Miss United States
  • Miss Pre-Teen United States
  • Miss Junior Teen United States
  • Miss Teen United States
  • Miss United States
  • United States
  • Woman United States

The 32nd annual Mrs. United States National Pageant was held in Orlando July 3 through 7.

Williams has served as a regional director, a multi-state director, and a national director for Ilacqua’s company, according to the suit. Williams’ role as National Director for some of the pageants started in November 2016 and 2017 when she reached a licensing agreement with Ilacqua to use some of the trademarks for a limited time, according to the complaint.

Ilacqua, who is represented by Leclair Korona Cole LLP, claims that, during the term of the licensing agreements, and for two years after they expired, “Williams and Crown Garland will not directly or indirectly engage in any other business which conducts a competitive pageant or competition; will not otherwise compete with Plaintiff; and will not solicit or divert any contestants, sponsors, or title holders to any competitive pageant or competition.”

The 2017 licensing agreement expired after the 2018 pageant was over. In May, Williams sent a letter to Ilacqua stating that she also was terminating the 2016 licensing agreement.

The suit claims that in violation of the agreements Williams and Crown Garland “began activities to work for or on behalf of organizations producing pageants in direct competition with defendant.”

The suit claims Williams sent Ilacqua a letter telling her to stay away from the 2018 pageant and actively promoted new competing pageants. Williams took over control of pageant social media accounts, including Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts, according to the suit.

Williams also took over several pageant websites and never turned over contestant information and other records of pageants operated under the license agreements, according to the complaint.

[email protected] / (585) 232-2035

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