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The Mercer County, Pa., company that makes The Club anti-theft steering wheel lock is suing a competitor in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, saying sales of the lock have been hurt by deceptive advertising. Winner International LLC of Sharon, Pa., seeks declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief against Lawman Armor Corp. of Berwyn, Pa., makers of the Unbrakeable Autolock. The lawsuit claims Lawman Armor’s ads have caused Winner “to lose both profits and the good will of actual and prospective customers by making willfully false and misleading allegations concerning the effectiveness of Winner’s automobile anti-theft device known as ‘The Club.’” Specifically, the lawsuit — filed by Joseph Katarincic of Katarincic & Salmon in Pittsburgh — cites a 30-minute infomercial aired on cable television in February in “at least Pennsylvania, Ohio and California.” It also cites Lawman Armor’s Web sites, www.unbrakeable.com and www.lawmancorp.com, “which disseminates the same false and misleading information as in the Infomercial, and is readily accessible to anyone with access to the Internet,” the lawsuit claims. The sites and infomercial either say or imply that The Club is ineffective, can be quickly broken off a steering wheel with a lead pipe, can be removed without damaging the steering wheel, and is inferior to the Unbrakeable Autolock, the lawsuit claims. But the company says it has tried to duplicate such demonstrations as depicted on television or the Internet, to no avail. “Such messages are materially false and misleading, in that attempts by Winner to duplicate the removal of The Club from a steering wheel by using a lead pipe to break The Club off without damaging the steering wheel (as is demonstrated in the Infomercial and on the Web site) were unsuccessful despite repeated efforts,” the suit states. Lawman Armor referred telephone calls to the company’s attorney, Roberta Jacobs-Meadway, who did not return a call seeking comment. Lawman Armor’s Web sites do not currently mention Winner International or The Club by name, referring rather to “steering wheel lock devices” with “aluminum locks that may be cut, drilled, or broken.” It was unclear if the company has changed its site since the lawsuit was filed in Pittsburgh. The lawsuit also claims that the infomercial and Web sites falsely represent that the Unbrakeable Autolock “is the most effective and affordable anti-theft device ever created,” when “testing by a qualified expert has demonstrated that the Unbrakeable Autolock can be easily defeated in a number of ways within minutes (if not seconds).” Winner claims Lawman Armor’s lock, which fits over a car’s brake or clutch pedal arm, can be broken with a hammer or drilled free. It also claims its Club is more affordable, because it sells for $39.95, as opposed to $59.99 for the Unbrakeable Autolock. The suit alleges violations of the Lanham Act, Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, and violations of common law prohibiting commercial disparagement and unfair competition. Winner seeks injunctions preventing Lawman from broadcasting its infomercial; forcing it to remove any misleading statements from its Web sites; the destruction of any misleading promotional materials; and requiring corrective advertising “to dispel the impact and effect of the false, misleading, and deceptive claims previously disseminated.”

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