Improv West Sues Marketing Firm

Los Angeles-based Improv West Associates, owner of the Improv comedy club chain, filed a lawsuit Aug. 29 claiming the Internet marketer it hired to further the Improv brand online used the opportunity to promote his own competing comedy business.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, accuses Robert Hartmann of breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud, intentional interference with contractual relations, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, unfair competition and violations of business and professional codes.

Also named in the suit are Hartmann’s Levity Productions LLC, Levity Entertainment Group LLC and E-Comic Branding Inc.

The lawsuit claims Hartmann used his job as marketing officer for Improv and a licensee of the Improv brand to market and promote “independent businesses he was building on the back of the Improv brand.”

Those businesses allegedly included a planned chain of comedy clubs called Levity Live that implied an affiliation with the Improv chain.

IWA also accuses Hartmann of attempting to take over the Improv brand by first trying to secure a license for all media to promote IWA products and services, which was denied, then trying to file a patent application for the Improv trademark under the Levity name, the News said.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages.