Taylor Swift has countersued a Long Island business owner who in July accused the pop star of trademark infringement.
In an answer and counterclaims filed Tuesday in federal court for the Eastern District of New York, Swift, 29, and five affiliated companies responded to the July 20 suit by SwiftLife, Inc., of Wantagh. The suit alleged that the pop star's app The Swift Life infringed on the wordmark SwiftLife issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2008.
Swift's filing accuses SwiftLife owner Patrick Bénot, 33, of Bellmore, of committing fraud in obtaining the wordmark SwiftLife when his business name is S.L. SwiftLife Computer Services. The singer wants Bénot's wordmark canceled, plus legal fees.
"Taylor's trying to pull a swift one on me," Bénot told Newsday. "I'm incorporated under SwiftLife. The mail comes to me as SwiftLife. I offer veterans' discounts under SwiftLife. My license plate is SWFTLFE." The appellation "Swift," he said, has been with him since childhood, and he has a tattoo with the word.
His company does computer hardware and software repair, and Bénot has a SwiftLife personal scheduling and management app that was in the beta-testing stage.
"What I really see it as is a bullying tactic to put pressure on him," said Bénot's attorney, Ramon Rodriguez. "She's pointed a multimillion-dollar legal gunbarrel at him. She has attorneys from one of the largest firms in the world, billing at exorbitant rates, and taking that resource and pointing at Patrick. It's retaliatory."
The Swift Life app, which the documents describe as "capable of enabling interaction and obtaining Taylor-Swift related content," is no longer available.
Bénot is also experiencing online trolling from apparent Taylor Swift fans.
"I've got a website with live chat and people are pretending to be Taylor and harassing me. All my information is public now — they probably already know where I live,” he said. A selection of the dozen or so comments on his SwiftLifeInc Instagram page contain vulgarities and vitriol. "Taylor ended you. Don't mess with THE taylor swift," reads a milder comment.
Neither Swift's spokeswoman nor the singer's attorney, J. Douglas Baldridge, responded to Newsday requests for comment. Swift has not commented on social media.