FM Files Suit Against iGPS

April 22, 2010
Factory Mutual Insurance Co. and its subsidiary FM Approvals have filed civil action against iGPS in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division, accusing the plastic pallet supplier of trademark infringement, false advertising and fraud, among other counts.

According to the complaint filed by FM,“iGPS’ pallet pool consists of pallets purchased from Schoeller Arca since 2006, before Schoeller Arca’s pallets received FM Approval. iGPS’ pallet pool therefore contains pallets that are both FM Approved and those that are not FM Approved.”

The 32-page filing states: “iGPS has made various statements that ‘its plastic pallet’ has been FM Approved or certified by FM Approvals. These are false and misleading statements that state or at least imply that all of the pallets in the iGPS pallet pool have received FM Approval and that iGPS has its own pallet that was approved by FM Approvals…Only the pallets purchased from Schoeller Arca that were manufactured on or after September 8, 2008, would be FM Approved.”

FM alleges in the court filing that “iGPS is falsely claiming that its pallet pool, and all of the pallets within it, are FM Approved or have met the FM Approvals certification.”

In all, FM accuses the company on seven counts—infringement of federally registered trademarks/service marks, trademark infringement and false designation or origin, false advertising, violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Florida False Advertising, Common Law Unfair Competition and Fraud.

iGPS denies the charges and has responded in a letter to customers. In the letter, Bob Moore, chairman and CEO of iGPS, writes: “FM’s allegations are baseless, and as is typically the case when confronting the wood pallet monopoly, highly suspect…For reasons that make sense only to FM, it claims to maintain a ‘policy’ that it does not provide retroactive approval to products manufactured prior to FM’s certification date—even when those products can be unequivocally proven to be identical to the products certified.”

Moore’s letter accuses FM of “favoritism toward the wood pallet industry” and points to “the arbitrary nature of its certification standards and processes.”

However, in a statement released to the press from the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA), Bruce Scholnick, president and CEO of NWPCA, says “smearing FM now is an obvious attempt to divert attention away from the devastating charges made by the respected insurance company/testing lab.”