Arbitration Slated for T.I. Media's Suit Against Former Exec

Rhett Pardon

SAN FRANCISCO — An arbitration hearing will be held at the end of the month in the case of a former Treasure Island Media marketing exec who was accused of taking over the company's MitchMason.com website and exploiting it after he left the company.

Jeffrey Smith, the former marketing director, has denied all of the gay porn studio's allegations, but he still holds on to MitchMason.com, which was operable until months ago but now is parked.

Several years ago, Treasure Island Media started up MitchMason.com, which centered around the fictional Mitch Mason, a "go-go dancer-turned-business school student-turned-club promoter-turned adult blogger" and relative of another Treasure Island Media brand and depiction, Matt Mason.

But Treasure Island Media claims Smith registered the company's domain name to himself earlier this year in a chance of opportunity when he worked at the San Francisco-based company. The studio also contends that the former exec schematically removed other administrative users of online accounts and diverted company funds to purchase traffic for his own benefit.

Smith, who began working for the company in January 2012, lead Treasure Island Media' s marketing and its social media efforts, including writing blog posts under the "Mitch Mason" name. In February, the suit said, Smith abruptly left the studio after registering the site MitchMason.com.

Treasure Island Media, which holds a trademark for Mitch Mason in relation to online adult services, made an array of charges against Smith, alleging cyberpiracy, breach of contract, trade secret appropriation, conversion, unjust enrichment, false designation of origin, unfair competition and violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Treasure Island Media is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction over Smith's use of the Mitch Mason trademark, a transfer of the MitchMason.com domain name and $630,000 in damages, as well as profits realized by Smith using MitchMason.com.

An arbitration hearing was set Monday for Sept. 29 in front of neutral Robert Morrill, a senior partner in the San Francisco law offices of Sidley Austin. Morrill specializes in misappropriation of trade secrets cases, among other intellectual property law matters.

Smith and Treasure Island Media did not immediately respond to XBIZ requests over comment in the case.

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