TrueNorth Academy, a market leader in providing outsourced services for developing, marketing and fulfilling distance learning systems, today announced that mediation efforts have collapsed in the ongoing $15 million lawsuit filed by it and company executive, Ross W. Jardine, against INVESTools, Inc.
As a result, litigation efforts against INVESTools, et. al., are being pursued aggressively by both TrueNorth and Jardine.
According to Jack Brannelly, executive vice president and general counsel of TrueNorth, the parties had previously entered into a “standstill agreement” (a joint decision to pause litigation proceedings) to pursue mediation. However, Brannelly says, due to the mediation breakdown, the standstill agreement is no longer in effect.
“Given the seriousness of the claims in this $15 million INVESTools lawsuit brought against it by TrueNorth Academy and Jardine, as well as the fact that mediation efforts have completely broken down, we felt it was imperative to press forward with legal proceedings in order to protect our intellectual property as well as Ross’ name and bring this litigation to a successful close,” Brannelly said.
LITIGATION ROOTS OUTLINED
Jardine, an original founder of INVESTools, left the company on August 26, 2003. Under terms of the Termination Agreement and General Release between Jardine and the company, the parties agreed that Jardine’s severance period would run from August 26, 2003 until June 15, 2004. INVESTools also agreed that after June 15, 2004, it would not use Jardine’s name or image in any manner in any “marketing, sales, educational or instructional materials, or in any other manner to benefit” INVESTools.
In October 2005, Jardine and TrueNorth (the current exclusive licensee of Jardine’s personality rights) discovered that INVESTools was using Jardine’s name, voice, picture and video images in numerous educational products, more than 16 months beyond the end of the severance period. It is expected that discovery of INVESTools internal documents will disclose additional unauthorized use of Jardine’s name.
As a result, TrueNorth and Jardine originally filed suit against INVESTools in the 3rd District Court of Utah, Salt Lake City on November 1, 2005 (ROSS JARDINE, an individual and TRUE NORTH ACADEMY, L.L.C., a Utah limited liability company, Plaintiffs, v. INVESTOOLS, INC., a Delaware corporation; PETER LOWE INTERNATIONAL, INC., a Florida nonprofit corporation, THE MCGRAW-HILL COMPANIES, INC., a Delaware corporation, NBC UNIVERSAL, INC., a Delaware corporation, PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES, L.C., dba MIT FINANCIAL, dba MIT FINANCIAL GROUP, a Utah limited liability company, Defendants.). The suit alleges INVESTools’ unauthorized use of Jardine’s name, likeness and image in violation of the Termination Agreement and General Release and seeks damages in excess of $15 million.
In addition to INVESTools (and as noted in the formal name of the suit), the case also names as defendants Peter Lowe International, Inc., The McGraw- Hill Companies, Inc. (NYSE: MHP), NBC Universal, Inc. (NYSE: GE), and Professional Support Services, L.C., also known as MIT Financial and Net Marketing Alliance. According to the suit, these latter defendants are named for their various levels of involvement with INVESTools during the period of alleged unauthorized use of Jardine’s name, image, voice and likeness.
About TrueNorth Academy
Formed in 2005, TrueNorth Academy is an outsourcing company that helps organizations take existing products and enhance them as personal training programs, creating greater end-user loyalty and profitability. Companies turn to TrueNorth for such outsourced services as product development and marketing, as well as distance learning systems fulfillment.
About Ross W. Jardine
Ross W. Jardine has been an active investor since 1988 and is considered one of the innovators in the field of investor education. Jardine was a co-founder of INVESTools (NASDAQ: IEDU), one of the worldwide leaders in investor education. He has personally trained tens of thousands of individual investors how to manage their own personal investments using the tools and strategies he developed, and he has been a featured speaker at hundreds of investment seminars and conferences in dozens of countries around the world.
Jardine is the author of the book “The Bear Market Game Plan,” as well as dozens of training courses, seminars and video presentations on personal investing and option strategies. His courses and seminars have been sold under the INVESTools, BusinessWeek, CNBC, Nightingale-Conant and Success Magazine brands.
Jardine is also considered by many as one of the pioneers in the field of e-commerce, having founded one of the first successful online shopping sites (iMall) in 1994, a company later sold to Excite@Home. He also created the first-ever Website for the Super Bowl in 1995, as well as developing online strategies for the Covey Leadership Center, HealthRider and a host of other companies.
Jardine co-founded TrueNorth Academy in 2005, a company that is the current exclusive licensee of Jardine’s personality rights. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations (cum laude) in 1987, with an emphasis on Business.