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Fountain Powerboats sues Reggie Fountain over website

The former owner of Fountain Powerboats finds himself in another legal tangle with the company he sold to investors in 2010.

Fountain Powerboats filed an application for a restraining order and a motion for a preliminary injunction against Reggie Fountain in a North Carolina court, the state in which bankruptcy filings and lawsuits, countersuits and motions between the two parties have played out since 2011.

The lawsuit alleges that “plaintiff Reggie Fountain has co-opted property, service marks, images and video footage from Fountain Powerboats [and is] using the images on his website.”

A website called Fountain Performance Marine features Reggie Fountain’s likeness and uses a service mark, or logo, that “is a colorable imitation of Fountain Powerboats’ service mark,” the lawsuit says.

The site incorporates Fountain Powerboats’ “historical sales data into the Fountain Performance Marine website, as though Fountain Performance Marine had made the described sales,” the lawsuit says.

The website also says Fountain Performance Marine possesses “Factory Certification authority, when Fountain Powerboats, not Reggie Fountain or Fountain Performance Marine, owns the factory that built Fountain Powerboats-brand boats,” according to the lawsuit.

The branding of Fountain Performance Marine “will damage Fountain Powerboats’ reputation and cause customers in the powerboat market to mistakenly believe Fountain Powerboats is now Fountain Performance Marine, led by Reggie Fountain,” the lawsuit says.

In early 2010, Fountain Powerboats emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with a new owner in Liberty Associates. As part of the reorganization plan, Reggie Fountain was retained as president and CEO. However, according to both parties, the arrangement quickly soured, culminating with Fountain announcing his resignation in December 2010, citing key differences in philosophy.

Less than two months after announcing his departure from Fountain Powerboats, the company he founded 30 years earlier and eventually sold after a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, Reggie Fountain launched RF, or Real Fast Powerboats.

The lawsuits, countersuits and motions were filed in North Carolina Business Court by Reggie Fountain and Fountain Powerboats, with documents dating from March. Both sides seem determined to prove they were the one wronged in the business relationship they once shared.

In May, after several months of legal battles with creditors and two Chapter 11 filings in three years, a temporary receivership of Fountain Powerboats and its affiliates was dissolved by a North Carolina judge.

At that time a sealed mediation settlement between Fountain and lender First Capital, to which Fountain owes more than $53 million, according to court documents, was filed in the Superior Court division of North Carolina Business Court.

— Reagan Haynes

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