Hedge fund and trading giant Citadel is suing firms and people in Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria for trademark infringement, making clear it won't tolerate impostors, no matter how distant.
The company's Citadel Enterprise Americas and KCG IP Holdings entities filed two lawsuits in federal court in Chicago, alleging Citadel Tax Consulting and Citadel Capital, with their similar castle-like logos, violated U.S. and Illinois laws by infringing on its trademarks.
The foreign firms and their operators used their businesses to "cause consumer confusion and to profit from the goodwill and value associated with the Citadel trademarks generally, and especially within the world of financial services," said the lawsuits, filed March 30 in the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois.
In the complaint lodged against Vienna-based Citadel Capital and its operators, Simo Nikolov Simeonov of Vidin, Bulgaria, and Salvator Carrera of Sofia, Bulgaria, the lawsuit cited one unidentified investor who reached out to Chicago-based Citadel after he realized he gave €20,000 ($24,629) to Citadel Capital believing it was the U.S. firm. He also told the U.S. firm that he and another person (also not identified by the lawsuit) who invested €100,000 with Citadel Capital were both having "difficulty" speaking with the Austrian firm, the lawsuit said.
Defendants identified in the lawsuits didn't immediately respond to emails asking for comment about the allegations.
Citadel, led by billionaire founder and CEO Ken Griffin, has about $28 billion under management and 2,200 employees worldwide. The company didn't have any additional comment on its lawsuits.
Citadel Enterprise Americas and KCG IP are asking the court for a permanent injunction blocking the defendants from infringing on the trademarks, whether online or in print products. Citadel also is a seeking monetary award and reimbursement of legal expenses.
"Citadel sues like-named firms in Europe" originally appeared on Crain's Chicago Business, a sister publication of Pensions & Investments.