A Twin Cities marketing expert accused in a lawsuit of “cybersquatting” on dozens of website domains associated with cycling legend Greg LeMond is claiming innocence, contending that some mystery identity thief must have hoarded the web addresses for future financial gain.
In a written response filed this week in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on behalf of himself and his son, Frederick H. Stinchfield is denying the allegations leveled by LeMond and wants the lawsuit, which seeks upward of $6.6 million, dismissed.
Stinchfield, 66, of Orono, also is demanding in the court filing that LeMond and his attorney “acknowledge publicly [that the] proceeding against me was erroneous and inappropriate, since these defamatory actions injure my reputation and ability to succeed in business.”
One of LeMond’s attorneys at the Greene Espel firm, Larry Shapiro, told the Star Tribune Thursday, “We have no additional comment at this time.”
In a letter Stinchfield shared with the Star Tribune that is addressed to the presiding judge, John Tunheim, the defendant makes the same denials and further claims that someone he doesn’t know has “stolen my identity relating to taking and registering these names. My 32-year-old son, who bears the same name, has told me he did not use my identity.”
In any event, the letter continues, the elder Stinchfield said he informed LeMond’s attorney that “he can prepare a form where I give up any rights I may have in such marks or names.”
In response, Shapiro said Thursday that LeMond “will not make any public comment about any settlement discussions.”
The son also is a defendant in the lawsuit, which LeMond filed earlier this month alleging that the two illegally created and bought 66 web addresses using the three-time Tour de France champion’s trademarked name and his Grail carbon-fiber technology business. Among the website names are lemondhybrids.com, lemondcomposites.us and lemondgrail.com.
LeMond announced his business venture in August 2016, and within two months, the domain names were registered by the father and son, according to the suit.
In words and photos included in the suit, the plaintiffs are alleging that the Stinchfields run a website titled “LeMond Industries,” which features the athlete’s likeness, name and “derogatory information” about LeMond and his business.
The website has advertising that presumably generates revenue for the father and son and also an offer to sell the domain names in violation of the federal Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, the suit reads.
An online service that verifies domain registrations lists the elder Stinchfield as the holder of lemondindustries.com.
Tunheim granted the 56-year-old LeMond, who lives in Medina, a temporary restraining order that bars the Stinchfields from registering any additional domain names tied to LeMond or his business or transferring or selling the ones in dispute.
Stinchfield’s court filings also include copies of an e-mail exchange he had with another LeMond attorney soon after the suit was filed. He told that attorney, Karl Procaccini, that the suit is “wildly inaccurate, false and defamatory.”
He went on to scold Procaccini because “you should have checked your facts and discussed them with me.”
Procaccini held off responding to Stinchfield’s demands and allegations, but he did ask for contact information for Stinchfield’s attorney.
Stinchfield responded that he can’t afford an attorney, but he will seek one later “to sue you and your client ... for defamation and improper litigation.”
A biographical outline on Stinchfield’s business website promotioninsights.com describes him as a promotion industry veteran of several decades whose previous clients include Pepsi, Unilever, Olympus and R.J. Reynolds.
LeMond and his wife, Kathy, came to live in the Twin Cities full time in the early 1990s. She grew up in La Crosse, Wis.