A Bellmore man is suing Taylor Swift, claiming she is illegally using the name of his business for her lifestyle app.
Patrick Benot, owner of the Wantagh-based computer consulting company SwiftLife, filed the lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court Friday.
Benot said he received trademark approval nearly a decade before the songstress signed a deal with Glu Games for “The Swift Life” app. The 28-year-old Grammy winner launched her app in December 2017.
The suit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages, claims the singer never reached out to Benot’s business before launching her app. Benot and the court papers say his similarly named venture has been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office since January 2008.
Attempts to reach Swift's representatives Saturday were unsuccessful.
“SwiftLife is all I've ever done,” Benot said Saturday in a telephone interview. “I have put everything into building my company, SwiftLife, as not only is it what I do, but it defines me.”
Benot, 32, was born and raised in Bellmore. He said he was a Make-a-Wish participant at age 10, when he received a desktop computer from the foundation. This fueled his love of electronics. A year later, he underwent a liver transplant.
“I've always thought ‘life was swift,’ as I almost didn't have a long one,” Benot said Saturday.
Benot said he learned of Swift’s app, which gives fans access to exclusive content such as photos, videos and news directly from the pop star, after searching the name of his company on Google to check if anyone else was using it.
“I was always at the top of the list,” he said. “And all of a sudden, I went down the list when Taylor Swift started an app.”
Benot said his high school friend Raymond Hindieh, an attorney in Texas, encouraged him to take legal action against Swift.
Benot’s one-man company, which specializes in computer sales, repairs and upgrades, has been contacted at the email address firstname.lastname@example.org by the singer’s app users who are confusing the similarly named ventures, the suit claims. Benot and his attorney, Ramon Rodriguez, said they attached evidence of this to their petition Friday. Benot believes the confusion is costing him clients and is cutting into his revenue. Accountants are still determining the amount of financial damages, said Rodriguez, who is based in Texas.
“He had an online presence before this," his attorney said Saturday. "With each passing day he doesn’t."
Benot said he respected Swift as an entrepreneur, but he was not willing to shake this off. The singer owns trademarks for phrases from her music such as “Cause We Never Go Out of Style” and “Could Show You Incredible Things."
“She’s registering a lot of trademarks, so she should know if there’s a SwiftLife.com out there and I have a SwiftLife registered trademark, she should be aware of that,” Benot said. “I do feel that she’s getting around it because I’m a small business on Long Island. How am I to compete?”
Benot is suing for infringement of registered trademark, federal trademark dilution, use of counterfeit mark, common law unfair competition, and other charges, according to the suit and his attorney.