WASHINGTON -- The name Blackwater has become so toxic that the notorious security contractor is now in the midst of its second makeover and has changed its name to Academi. But a Texas sporting goods chain called Academy is suing the company for trademark infringement, arguing that any perceived association with the contractor will cause them to suffer "irreparable harm."
"Given the corporate history of Defendant and the negative media coverage stemming from its security operatives in Iraq, Academy will suffer irreparable harm by any confusion over a connection, joint venture, or affiliation between Defendant and Academy," wrote Academy's lawyers in the suit filed in U.S. district court in Houston on June 26.
In 2007, the Iraqi government accused Blackwater guards of shooting 17 civilians without provocation. Blackwater subsequently came under intense scrutiny from federal officials, and in 2009, the State Department canceled its contract with the group.
Blackwater attempted its first rebranding in 2009, when it changed its name to Xe Services LLC in an effort to shift its focus away from private security. In December 2011, the firm again changed its name, this time to Academi. The new name was intended to make the company appear more "boring," according to president and CEO Ted Wright.
Primarily at issue is the fact that Academi has an online "proshop" where it sells hats, jackets, shoes and other outdoor gear -- the same type of items that can be found on Academy's site. The company still gets the majority of its revenue from security contracts, according to the Virginian Pilot, which first reported on the suit.
In its filing, Academy says its name has "gained enormous amounts of goodwill among consumers and has come to represent a long tradition of selling quality goods and services."
Academy is not only concerned that Academi could sell inferior products that customers may mistakenly associate with the Texas chain, but "given Defendant's corporate history and past negative connotations, Academy's Marks are at significant risk of dilution through tarnishment and blurring."
The sporting goods store wants the court to award it triple damages and bar Academi from using its new name.
When asked for comment on the suit, an Academi spokesman said, "The company is confident in its position and any claims to the contrary are without merit."
Start of War: Oct. 7, 2001
<em>American soldiers hide behind a barricade during an explosion, prior to fighting with Taliban forces November 26, 2001 at the fortress near Mazar-e-Sharif, northern Afghanistan. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)</em>
Number of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan: 88,000
<em>US Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed from the USS Bataan's Amphibious Ready Group arrive December 14, 2001 at an undisclosed location with field gear and weapons. (Photo by Johnny Bivera/Getty Images)</em>
Number of Troops at War's Peak
<em>U.S. Marines begin to form up their convoy at a staging area near Kandahar, Afghanistan, as they await orders to begin their trek to Kandahar to take control of the airfield 13 December, 2001. (DAVE MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the war's peak: About 101,000 in 2010. Allies provided about 40,000.
<em>U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a televised address from the East Room of the White House on June 22, 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais-Pool/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Withdrawal plans: 23,000 U.S. troops expected to come home by the end of the summer, leaving about 68,000 in Afghanistan. Most U.S. troops expected to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, though the U.S. is expected to maintain a sizeable force of military trainers and a civilian diplomatic corps.
Number of U.S. Casualties
<em>American flags, each one representing the 4,454 American soldiers killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, move in the breeze at The Christ Congregational United Church March 17, 2008 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Number of U.S. casualties: At least 1,828 members of the U.S. military killed as of Tuesday, according to an Associated Press count. According to the Defense Department, 15,786 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action.
Afghan Civilian Casualties
<em>Asan Bibi, 9, sits on a bench as burn cream is applied to her at Mirwais hospital October 13, 2009 Kandahar, Afghanistan. She, her sister and mother were badly burned when a helicopter fired into their tent in the middle of the night on October 3rd, according to their father. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Afghan civilian casualties: According to the United Nations, 11,864 civilians were killed in the conflict between 2007, when the U.N. began reporting statistics, and the end of 2011.
Cost of the War
<em>An Iraqi man counts money behind a pile of American dollars in his currency exchange bureau in Baghdad on April 11, 2012. (ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Cost of the war: $443 billion from fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2011, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Number of Times Obama Has Visited Afghanistan
<em>US President Barack Obama speaks to troops during a visit to Bagram Air Field on May 1, 2012 in Afghanistan. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images) </em><br><br> Number of times Obama has visited Afghanistan: 3 as president, including Tuesday, and 1 as a presidential candidate.