ECU Files Federal Lawsuit Against Website

East Carolina University reports it has filed a lawsuit in federal court "to protect its trademarks and brands from unauthorized use by the owner of a Greenville publication and website called HealthyPirates.com."

The owner of HealthyPirates.com is Roy Hopkins Jr.

The suit, filed Friday, alleges that the website's owner, Roy Hopkins Jr., "engaged in trademark infringement,cyberpiracy and unfair competition."

"The university has made every effort to resolve this issue without going to court," said Paul Zigas, ECU's senior associate university attorney. "We have tried unsuccessfully to persuade Mr. Hopkins to stop the practices that we allege violate both federal and state laws. Unfortunately, the university is left with no alternative but to litigate this matter.”

WITN spoke with Hopkins Monday afternoon.

Hopkins tells WITN he met with ECU about a year ago, and claims they agreed he could use the words "healthy pirates," as well as the colors and images as long as he used a disclaimer. Hopkins said he has used the disclaimer as instructed. He also says he is using the colors purple and what is called Tennessee orange, not gold.

Hopkins said he didn't hear from ECU again until about a month ago, when he got a letter from the university. He said it was a shock.

"I don't know what the deal is," Hopkins said. "Now they've taken it to a whole new level."

Hopkins said he was born in Greenville, is a lifelong Pirate fan and graduated from ECU in 2006, and that he has been dealing with the university forever.

Hopkins, who owns a personal trainer business, said his interest in fitness and health is what prompted him to start the website. He says it's been up since 2009.

Hopkins said he is in the process of hiring an attorney.

Both the ECU Board of Trustees and the University of North Carolina Board of Governors approved the lawsuit filing.

"It is very important to protect your brand," said David Brody, chair of the ECU Board of Trustees.

A news release from ECU states Zigas said the university believes that the "HealthyPirates.com" publication and website use marks and colors that are confusingly similar to familiar ECU logos, colors, and registered trademarks, such as the skull and crossbones and the words "East Carolina University Pirates" above a saber. In addition, he said, the term "Healthy Pirates" has been used for at least 10 years by an ECU student organization that promotes health and wellness. The "Healthy Pirates" name is a university-owned trademark, he said, and ECU is a nationally respected provider of medical services, including for the people of eastern North Carolina and Greenville. Zigas noted that the university, through its licensing partner, the Collegiate Licensing Co., frequently addresses trademark matters with commercial enterprises that intentionally or inadvertently misuse university-owned marks, and successful resolutions are reached in the majority of cases without the need to resort to litigation.

"We regret that we have not been able to reach an agreement with Mr. Hopkins, but the University will do what is necessary to protect its reputation, good will and intellectual property rights," Zigas said.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Dave Location: middle earth on Apr 22, 2011 at 06:10 AM
    WITN Moderator: Why was my little tea pot comment removed from 4/20/11? Do you people not know what a sense of humor is?
    • reply
      by Anon V on Apr 24, 2011 at 11:41 AM in reply to Dave
      we just don't like you Dave...it's just that simple
  • by Peety on Apr 21, 2011 at 12:44 PM
    whats your point bone head!! we know Roy and support him all the way! ECU is a hypocrite and has no character!!! now that's funny we support him 100% Lee!
  • by xoxoxdog Location: gvl on Apr 20, 2011 at 07:54 PM
    Whoever hands over the most money to the attorneys will win the case. Its all about the money....does not matter who is right...that's why I dont give a flip 'cause I already know who gonna win.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 20, 2011 at 01:11 PM
    just saw agreement on www.healthypirates.com that was agreed between ECU and HealthyPirates.com/Roy Hopkins WOW ECU!!! They should be ashamed for this!! WOW!!
  • by Anonymous on Apr 20, 2011 at 11:05 AM
    wow!! it is so shameful that people want to try to put a negative cloud on people and especially this guy. This guy is only standing up for what he believes in! It looks to me that ECU is just trying to bully him around! I hope he wins and are very tired of people tryin to bash his name. It looks to me that is a very successful business man in Greenville.
  • by Anonymous Location: w8lifter on Apr 20, 2011 at 10:04 AM
    this pirate isnt holding his head in shame. Roy gives ECU alumni a bad rep. Research him and you will see.
  • by WikiLinks Location: Greenville on Apr 20, 2011 at 09:17 AM
    A friend of Roy has just told me that Roy has attained an attorney and he states the ECU has no grounds to stand on!! ECU always trying to bully the small guy...The story is supposed to hit the media in the next 2 days! We support Healthy Pirates Magazine!
  • by David Location: Greenville on Apr 20, 2011 at 05:28 AM
    The logo looks nothing like what ECU uses. Heck, this pirate skull would eat Pete for lunch.
    • reply
      by Dave on Apr 21, 2011 at 02:38 PM in reply to David
      That Petey fella looks like he should be greeting people at the gates of Disney Land.
  • by Jimmy T. Hodges Location: Greenville on Apr 19, 2011 at 06:26 PM
    ECU should be ashamed to take such action. They are worried over the turn - "Healthy Pirate"! Please, the entire Pirate Nation is hanging their heads in disgust over this! ECU does not own the word "pirate"or our beautiful colors. No one loves the pirates more than me and this reminds me of the time when they sued "Sully's"! Grow up get to work on bring that ancient press box at Ficklin into the 21 century.
  • by laura Location: greenville on Apr 19, 2011 at 05:37 PM
    I'm so glad to see the hundreds of thousands of dollars that ECU has collected since raising their tuition is being put to good use, hiring lawyers and fighting a free publication that promotes a healthy lifestyle. Maybe if they have a little left over, they'll hire a few more cops to patrol the campus and downtown area where students are getting robbed...but only after they protect their precious reputation.
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