By Miriam Raftery
May 7, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—The U.S. Patent and Trademark office has issued a trademark to the San Diego East County Chaldean Chamber of Commerce.
Ben Kalasho, president of the Chamber, announced the news on the Chamber’s Facebook page, stating, “We are honored to be the ONLY legitimate Chaldean Chamber of Commerce in California.”
But that contention is disputed by a rival Chamber, the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce of California.
Kalasho ran the announcement of the trademark along with an image of the rival chamber’s logo and the words “fake” stamped across it. He also ran photos of Johnny Oram, Will Anton, and Mark Arabo, who have had ties to the state Chamber group.
Oram, president of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce of California, accused Kalasho of engaging in “a very divisive and egregious attack against an organization that is doing good in the community.,,,It’s a shame where people cannot tolerate competition, that’s what America is all about.” Oram added that his group is “not infringing on anyone’s trademark whatsoever.”
Arabo’s Neighborhood Market donated $100,000 to Oram’s chamber when it launched with former state Senator Wadie Deddeh as its chair. “Unfortunately this donation has caused nothing but a frivolous lawsuit, skewed media attention, fake FB posts, and unjustified slander,” Arabo said in an e-mail to ECM, adding that he has officially resigned as an honorary board member of the chamber since then. “Any claims of connection between myself and any of these organizations is without both warrant and honesty,” Arabo concluded.
Anton said he is “proud and honored” to serve as Vice President of the chamber headed by Oram. He urged Kalasho to “stop attacking”, adding, “Our goal is to do everything from helping small businesses grow to helping refugees assimilate into American culture. I have, for many years, developed a credible and honorable reputation within San Diego’s business and political community.”
The two chambers have been at odds previously, including a lawsuit filed by Kalasho’s chamber over a cancelled event at a local golf course that later hosted an event for the rival chamber. Kalasho won a judgment in that case, however the defendant has indicated he missed the court hearing due to a calendar error and was considering filing an appeal.
Both Chambers seek to represent members of the Iraqi-Chaldean immigrant community.