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Relating to the use of an entity name that falsely implies governmental affiliation.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
SB 275 would permit a governmental unit to seek an injunction against a person's use of an entity name that might falsely imply affiliation with the governmental unit. If a court finds that the person willfully intended to imply governmental affiliation, the court would be permitted to order an award to the governmental unit of up to three times the entity’s profits and the governmental unit’s damages and award reasonable attorney’s fees to the governmental unit.
If a person intentionally tries to imply false governmental affiliation, likely in order to gain revenue from the public, they ought to face appropriate consequences. While we do not oppose the premise behind this bill, we have two specific reservations that prevent us from supporting it.
First, it is unclear that an award of three times the entity's profits and the governmental units damages is proportional to the offense. (How would the governmental unit's damages be calculated to ensure that the number is reasonable?) Second, it is unclear what standard of evidence must be met to determine that a person "willfully intended to imply governmental affiliation." For these reasons we remain neutral on SB 275 and encourage legislators to visit these issues with the bill author prior to taking a vote.