Court Plus website

Charleston County officials are opposing a former employee's attempt to trademark the name "Court Plus," which is a website the county created to let the public search online court records. Screenshot

Charleston County's clerk of court is in a trademark fight with a former employee over who has the right to use the name of a website application that keeps track of lawsuits and other legal filings.

Arun Kanginakudru, who owns Charleston-based KK Analytics & Solutions with his wife, filed a trademark application in June for the name "Court Plus," which is the same name of a website the county developed in 2012 for the public to search records online.

Kanginakudru helped develop the Court Plus website when he was employed by CMC Americas Inc., a technology firm the county hired as a contractor, according to a filing with the trademark office. He later left CMC and worked for the county's information technology office, where he continued to develop the Court Plus software, the filing states.

Kanginakudru no longer works for the county, which says it never filed for a trademark on the Court Plus name, but the application has earned "regional and national recognition," including a write-up in the Government Computers News publication.

It first learned that Kanginakudru was trying to register the name in July when he sent an email to county officials claiming they were infringing on his trademark. That prompted a cease-and-desist letter from the county's legal office, which reminded Kanginakudru in a letter that any work he did for the county belongs to the county.

County officials then filed a notice with the trademark office opposing Kanginakudru's registration of the Court Plus name, calling it "misleading and deceptive."

"The county has spent significant sums of money designing the Court Plus web application using the Court Plus name," county officials told the trademark office, adding that consumers might think Kanginakudru's business was associated with the county if the trademark was allowed.

Kanginakudru was supposed to respond to the county's complaint by Wednesday, but he had not filed any paperwork as of Friday afternoon.

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The trademark office said in a notice that failing to meet the Wednesday deadline could lead to a default ruling in favor of the county.

"We have not determined our next course of action at this time," said county spokesman Shawn Smetana.

Kanginakudru could not be reached for comment. He did not respond to an email sent to the address listed on his trademark application. A telephone number for KK Analytics & Solutions appears to have been disconnected.

The trademark office has not scheduled a hearing in the case.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_