CCA’s Rebranding May Violate Trademark Rights
Just two months ago, PLN reported on Corrections Corporation of America’s tacit admission of failure, evidenced by the firm rebranding itself as “CoreCivic.” PLN managing editor Alex Friedmann said of the name change, “If nothing else this rebranding effort indicates the company knows its CCA brand – which it developed over more than 30 years – had become a liability due to its connection with higher levels of violence, sexual abuse, corruption and questionable cost savings at CCA-run prisons and jails. The company may now be called CoreCivic but it will always be remembered as CCA and can’t escape its past.” [See: PLN, Nov. 2016, p.51].
In a new development reported on December 13, 2016, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), a national non-profit organization that works on issues related to U.S. immigration detention, announced that CoreCivic had violated its common-law trademark rights. In fact, CIVIC opposes the use of privately-operated detention facilities and had previously raised concerns about the sexual abuse of detainees at a CCA facility in San Diego. The organization has retained attorney Jonathan Kirsch and the law office of Kendall Brill & Kelly to address the trademark violation.
“It is shocking that CCA would steal our name in what can only be construed as an effort to create undue confusion for immigrants in detention and exploit the goodwill associated with our name,” stated Christina Fialho, co-founder and executive director of CIVIC. Attorney Kirsch added, “There is an irony to the fact that a corporation in the business of running private prisons chooses to re-brand itself with the trademark of one of its most active critics and watchdogs. Whatever the motive, however, the new name is likely to result in confusion among the clients, supporters and regulators who already know the good work of CIVIC in the field of prisoner services and prison reform.”
According to CoreCivic CEO Damon Hininger, the company decided to change its name in order to “give them access to new markets in states like California that have previously resisted private-prison firms.” Coincidentally (or not), CIVIC is based in California.
Although CCA has rebranded itself, its new corporate name does not appear on its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee – as if it is ashamed of being publicly identified.