First Fruits Business Ministry has issued a stop and desist letter to Awakend about the marketing of its Zenith supplement.
According to FFBM, Awakend made “false, misleading, and fraudulent representations concerning First Fruits’ product Trisynex.”
Following an investigation last week, BehindMLM highlighted concerns about Awakend’s marketing promises.
Our first issue was that the patent under which Awakend claimed Zenith was made not only did not belong to formulator Vietal Nutrition – but was also expired.
The stop and desist letter from FFBM validates such concerns and gives background for the current situation.
Vietal and Awakend appear to be misrepresenting First Fruits’ product Trisynex as their own Zenith.
This is a classic bait and switch scheme that deceives and may harm consumers.
These practices clearly violate applicable federal and state law by constituting false advertising, deceptive identification of source and origin, passing-off, and unfair competition.
That background has been divided into numerous topics stated in the document below.
Anything in a green box is directly cited from FFBM’s stop and desist, which was dated and addressed to Awakend’s attorney on September 7th, 2022.
The Trisynex Patent has expired.
Awakend fraudulently claims to be the sole owner of US Patent No. 6,899,892 (the “892 patent”).
This patent has EXPIRED, as you certified in a recent filing on Tripharma, LLC’s behalf in the matter of Tripharma, LLC v. First Fruits Business Ministry LLC, et al.
Nobody has exclusive rights to the ‘892 patent anymore, as you have admitted, and any lawyer or competent business person would know that.
It is illegal to assert exclusive rights to an expired patent.
In terms of the present patenting status of Trisynex;
First, the UCONN investigation was directed at Trisynex rather than Zenith.
Second, First Fruits owns the United States. “Composition for and Method to Increase Serum Adiponectin and Reduce Body Fat,” Patent No. 10,632,092 (the ‘092 patent).
The United States Patent and Trademark Office officially awarded this issued patent. On April 28, 2020, the Patent & Trademark Office granted to Roger J. Catarino and William D. Kuhne and assigned to First Fruits. This patent is assumed to be valid.
Awakend’s doctored Trisynex trial from 2009.
BehindMLM reported last month that Awakend was giving consumers with a doctored research that falsely claimed to be about Zenith.
Awakend has subsequently admitted that the initial research did not apply to Zenith, but insists that Trisynex and Zenith are the same formula.
Here’s what FFBM thinks:
The study material sent by Awakend to prospective customers and distributors has plainly been doctored to include the name “Zenith” as the topic of the research.
Not only did the term “Zenith” not exist over 14 years ago, but the primary focus of the research was Trisynex. Vietal and Awakend simply doctored the study, substituting “Zenith” for every instance of Trisynex.
Neither Awakend nor Vietal were engaged in that clinical research in any form, and the report’s wording was plainly altered to deceive potential users and distributors into believing Zenith had undergone thorough clinical testing.
It clearly was not, and Awakend’s alteration of that study violates relevant state and federal statutes for trademark infringement, copyright infringement, fraud, false advertising, and unfair competition.
The usage of Colin F. Watson by Awakend in Zenith marketing
Colin F. Watson, a self-proclaimed fitness and nutrition expert, has been hired by Awakend to participate in a film titled “On Zenith and Awakend Health,” in which he delivers a testimonial in support of the success of “Zenith.”
Mr. Watson repeats the fraudulent claims about the origins of Zenith,” the doctoring of the 2008 clinical research to make it appear as though it was testing “Zenith,” and the efficacy of “Zenith” rather than the genuine medication, Trisynex.
Mr. Watson opens his video by asserting that Awakend’s CEO, Danielle Meoli, communicated these misrepresentations to him personally, and that he examined a copy of the (doctored) research to back his claims.
The usage of James (Jim) Roufs and Lorna Vanderhaeghe by Awakend in Zenith marketing
Awakend created another marketing film that was used to deceive consumers and prospective participants in Awakend’s multi-level marketing scheme about the origin of the term “Zenith.”
In this video, James (Jim) Roufs and women’s health “expert” Lorna Vanderhaeghe promote the debut of “Zenith.”
Mr. Roufs and Ms. Vanderhaeghe are repeating Awakend’s deceptive claims about the inception of “Zenith” and the applicability of the University of Connecticut clinical research to “Zenith.”
This video is just another crucial example of Awakend’s efforts to mislead their client base and entice unsuspecting customers to participate in their multi-level marketing scheme.
With each recruit, Vietal and Awakend purposefully mislead victims into participating in their campaign of false advertising, unfair business practices, and misrepresentation surrounding First Fruits’ ownership rights to Trisynex, solidifying their liability, including vicarious liability, for engaging in these numerous unfair business practices.
Statements made by Vietal Nutrition’s lawyer about FFBM and Trisynex (as published on Awakend’s website)
Reid Winthrop, Vietal’s General Counsel, has added to the already extensive record of wrongdoings by conducting a slander campaign on Awakend’s website.
Mr. Winthrop’s false and defamatory assertions characterize Mr. Roger Catarino and First Fruits as “infringers,” echoing previous misrepresentations about “Zenith” made by Vietal and Awakend.
Mr. Winthrop repeats the myth that the University of Connecticut studied “Zenith.”
He also repeats the lie that First Fruits’ rights in Trisynex are “an effort to steal the tradename and create uncertainty where none existed,” when in fact First Fruits has no interest in using the tradename Zenith and is the party with an issued patent on the technology Vietal and Zenith are infringing.
His assertions are outright lies intended to hurt First Fruits and Mr. Catarino’s commercial interests, and so clearly constitute defamation.
Mr. Winthrop mentions TriPharma, LLC’s business activities, possession of the “exclusive rights” to market goods based on the ‘892 patent, and securing judgments against Imagenetix, Inc. and First Fruits in his similar statement on Awakend’s website.
This is untrue and deceptive. Mr. Winthrop neglects to explain that the ‘892 patent has EXPIRED and hence does not offer such rights.
Mr. Winthrop fails to disclose that TriPharma’s license to the ‘892 patent expired over eight years ago on October 1, 2014.
Mr. Winthrop also fails to disclose that when TriPharma attempted to extend the license, they were shut down on December 8, 2014 by Federal District Court Judge Selna.
Mr. Winthrop also fails to mention that Judge Selna denied Tripharma’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction less than two months ago in the pending action between Tripharma and First Fruits, concluding that Tripharma had not demonstrated a likelihood of prevailing on its ongoing bogus claim that it has the exclusive license to the patent and related intellectual property.
Finally, Mr. Winthrop fails to note that TriPharma LLC’s CEO, Evan P. Dameshek, was charged for and pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud under 18 U.S.C. 157 in connection with a subsequent and related bankruptcy action.
Mr. Dameshek admits to inventing about $3,200,000.00 in business transactions in order to mislead Imagenetix, Inc. in 2019 regarding the product allegedly now held entirely by Vietal and Awakend, namely Zenith.
Awakening and Vietal Nutrition are FFBM demands.
First Fruits requests that Vietal and Awakend cease and desist from making any false, misleading, or deceptive representations concerning the genuine nature of Trisynex, as detailed in this document.
First Fruits further requests that Vietal and Awakend delete the deceptive statements from their website(s), publish a written retraction of these claims, and cease and desist from promoting or selling “Zenith” or any product generated or created from the infringement of First Fruits’ intellectual property.
While First Fruits objects to all of the false and defamatory comments made to far, the continuous efforts to promote and distribute “Zenith” in blatant violation of First Fruits’ intellectual property rights are particularly troubling.
Vietal and Awakend deceptively portray themselves as victims to prospective participants in a complicated multi-level marketing scheme, when they have no legal right to sell, market, distribute, or authorize others to sell, market, or distribute any form of Trisynex.
Because TriPharma, Vietal, Awakend, and Mr. Winthrop have been provided with unambiguous written notice of First Fruits’ possible legal claims, they are obligated by law to preserve any evidence relating to their acts and conduct.
This means they must keep and not delete all hard-copy and electronically stored material relevant to the aforementioned matters, including text messages and emails with current and former TriPharma, Vietal, and Awakend personnel and others.
This obligation includes the preservation of all documents, electronic files, emails, text messages, voicemails, social media messaging, hidden system files, and metadata that are currently located on or contained in any freestanding computer, laptop, tablet, cellular phone, cloud storage system, email or social media account, or other digital device that may contain data-storage capabilities, including but not limited to hard disk drives, optical disk drives, removable media, such as flash drives, and removable media, such as USB drives.
The aforementioned preservation duties are ongoing, and so encompass information that may exist beyond the date of this letter, or that may exist now or in the future.
As you may imagine, First Fruits takes these issues extremely seriously and will not hesitate to take all necessary actions to safeguard its legal rights.
We trust that, having been informed of our concerns, you, TriPharma, Vietal, and Awakend would cease and desist from these and any other unlawful conduct.
Awakend and Vietal Nutrition have until September 14th to comply, according to FFBM.
First Fruits will take necessary steps to safeguard its legal rights and avoid misleading advertising, fraudulent identification of source and origin, passing-off, unfair competition, or other unlawful activities or practices unless you respond and agree to take the foregoing remedial actions before September 14, 2022. Please use caution in your activities.
I’m going to put an end to any wacky conspiracy ideas since I’m intimately aware with what goes on in the MLM sector.
Our interest in Awakend and Zenith is limited to our coverage of the MLM business. For almost a decade, we’ve been covering unscrupulous actors in the MLM sector and associated pranks.
BehindMLM has “no skin in the game” in this continuing fight, regardless of whether Awakend or First Fruits Business Ministry wins. As part of our commitment to our readers, we will cover whatever occurs next.
Except for this article, BehindMLM’s coverage of Awakend and Zenith was part of our regular coverage of the MLM sector. There was no interaction between Awakend, Vietal Nutrition, or anybody representing the company.
Roger Catarino (right), FFBM’s owner and CEO, initially contacted me on September 1st.
BehindMLM’s coverage of Awakend and Zenith, according to Catarino, has been “largely correct.”
He asked that I write him “for the truth that would be recorded with facts.”
On September 8th, I replied to Catarino’s email.
Catarino responded, alerting me of the cease and desist letter filed to Awakend.
I guaranteed you the truth, backed up with evidence. Please review the accompanying for more information on the infractions Vietal and Awakend have committed and continue to commit.
The email included a copy of the C&D.
BehindMLM’s coverage on Awakend and Zenith has not been influenced by Awakend or FFBM.
While I did request permission to publish on the C&D Catarino supplied me, which he approved, he had no influence or control over the publication of this story.
BehindMLM has received no cash or compensation from FFBM or Catarino. Aside from requesting permission to report on the C&D, BehindMLM has not engaged into any arrangement with FFBM, Awakend, Vietal Nutrition, or any other linked entity out of politeness.
Awakend or Vietal Nutrition have yet to contact BehindMLM regarding our ongoing investigation and reporting.
I’ve had to regularly call out Awakend distributors in the comments section of our Awakend articles for brainlessly repeating Awakend’s marketing promises – without taking into account our independent research and reporting.
I am not aware of Awakend addressing the question of the validity of the expired Trisynex patent it is representing. Or the fact that, as of yet, neither Awakend nor Vietal Nutrition appear to have any standing claim to Trisynex manufacturing, marketing, or selling rights.
According to my understanding of Patent US10632092B2, this is not the case for First Fruits Ministries.
Update 14th September 2022 – While the Trisynex patent dispute remains unresolved, FFBM has been dealt a serious legal setback.
TriPharma (dba Vietal Nutrition) received authorisation for the appointment of a Receiver on September 13th.
The Receiver will take over FFBM with the goal of channeling produced money to settle TriPharma’s 2013 judgment against FFBM.