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Why does Mass Mutual want to hide its disability insurance claim forms?

Mass Mutual, an insurance company that sells long term disability insurance products, recently hired the international law firm of Shutts & Bowen in an effort to prohibit Disability Insurance Attorneys Dell & Schaefer from displaying blank Mass Mutual long term disability insurance claim forms on their website. More specifically, Mass Mutual hired attorney Jeffrey Landau, one of the leading insurance defense attorneys in the United States. Mass Mutual claims that by displaying their logo and claim forms that Attorneys Dell & Schaefer is “conducting an unfair and deceptive trade practice.” The forms are posted by Attorneys Dell & Schaefer in order to inform potential claimants of the requirements necessary to prove disability. Mass Mutual has over 300 billion dollars in assets under management and it is interesting that they are concerned about Attorneys Dell & Schaefer providing access to a set of blank claim forms that must be submitted in order for disability applicant to complete their claim for benefits. Instead of blank claim forms, we could have provided copies of claim forms that were submitted as public records in one of the many lawsuits against Mass Mutual.

I always try to give disability insurance companies the benefit of the doubt that they want to do the right thing for their insured’s, but it is actions like requesting a law firm to remove blank claim forms which reaffirms my belief that insurance companies are committed to making the disability benefit claims process as difficult as possible.

Disability attorneys Dell & Schaefer do not have the time to dispute Mass Mutual’s request to remove the disability claim forms from their website, therefore we have agreed to remove the forms from our website. Claim forms and information regarding Mass Mutual are available upon request. A copy of the cease and desist letter sent by Mass Mutual’s hired lawyer can be viewed below.

Re: Infringement of MassMutual Intellectual Property

Dear Greg:

We represent Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Comapny and its affiliated entities (collectively, “MassMutual”) in connection with the enforcement of its intellectual property rights and pursuit of those who may infringe those rights. Your website, http://www.diattorney.com/, and more particularly the page located at http://www.diattorney.com/mass-mutual/ (collectively, the “Dell Website”) have come to the attention of MassMutual, which has asked us to contact you regarding your unauthorized use and display of MassMutual’s registered marks, proprietary information, and forms that also contain those marks. This includes, but is not limited to, the use of the MassMutual Financial Group logo and MassMutual long term disability claim forms. It also appears that some of these copyrighted and/or trademarked materials may have improperly, and without authorization, been misappropriated from MassMutual’s own website.

We assume you are aware that unauthorized duplication of MassMutual’s proprietary marks and forms violates federal law, including the Lanham Act. Furthermore, while we understand that competition in the marketplace is allowed, this conduct is unfair and deceptive trade practice under Florida law and en example of sanctionable unfair competition. These act violate section 501 et. seq., Florida Statutes and Florida common law. The potential remedies available under Florida law and for infringement actions are significant.

MassMutual is prepared to pursue its civil remedies in this matter. As a plaintiff, we may not only enjoin the unlawful infringement of MassMutual’s marks and proprietary documents, but may also obtain damages for such infringement and unfair competition, including, but not limited to, the defendant’s profits, any damages sustained by the plaintiff, and the cost of the action. In egregious cases, such as where knowing and willful infringement is found, the damages may be multiplied.

However, MassMutual wishes to resolve this matter amicably and without filing suit – but is fully prepared to enforce it’s rights in court if necessary. Accordingly, we demand, on behalf of MassMutual, that you and your law firm immediately:

  1. Take down all infringing content at all websites under your control, including, but not limited to those pages located at http://www.diattorney.com/ and http://www.diattorney.com/mass-mutual/
  2. Cease and recall all advertising and promotional materals bearing MassMutual’s marks and other proprietary forms
  3. Discontinue all use of the text, images, and forms taken from our MassMutual’s website (of from a website of an authorized used of the materials and marks); and
  4. Commit in writing to cease all use of such marks or materials.

We ask you to confirm your agreement and comply with our request by signing and returning a copy of this letter to us by the close of business on October 20, 2010. MassMutual’s course of action in this matter will be determined based upon your degree of cooperation. If we do not hear from you we will be forced to move ahead promptly.

This offer of compromise is without prejudice to any claim for copyright or trademark infringement or unfair competition, or damages that may be asserted on behalf of MassMutual should this matter not be resolved promptly to its satisfaction.

If you have any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Very truly yours,
SHUTTS & BOWEN LLP
Jeffrey M. Landau



A National Disability Insurance Law Firm Since 1979

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