What’s in a name?

By: Mark Fitzgerald

The News, by any other name, would avoid a lawsuit

Your Hometown Newspapers Inc., which publishes 10 free-distribution papers in Dade County, Fla., under the names Community Newspapers and Community News, is suing a Sun-Sentinel sister company for starting a chain of newspapers with the name Community News.
In early August, South Florida Newspaper Network (sfnn) began distributing free weeklies in the Miami-Dade area under the name Sun-Sentinel Community News Group. Your Hometown claims sfnn ? owned, like the daily Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, by the Tribune Co. ? is intentionally mimicking the names of the Community Newspapers that it has been distributing for more than three decades.
“We have dozens of witnesses, we get two to five more every day, who say they were not just confused but misled by sfnn salespeople,” says Michael Miller, executive editor and president of Your Hometown.
sfnn newspapers have even turned up in Community Newspaper news racks, says Miller, who owns Your Hometown along with his brother Grant Miller.
At a scheduled Sept. 28 hearing in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, Your Hometown will seek a temporary injunction to stop sfnn from using the Community News name while it pursues its lawsuit for trademark infringement and unfair competition.
Michael Miller says his company asked sfnn not to use the Community News name before it launched the papers because readers and advertisers could be misled by the name. He says sfnn president Scott Patterson responded by letter, saying he “would be surprised if actual consumer confusion would occur.”
Patterson did not return a phone message seeking comment on the lawsuit. Michael Miller says his company is gearing up for a long fight with sfnn.
(Editor & Publisher WebSite:http:www.mediainfo.com) [Caption]
(copyright: Editor & Publisher September 4, 1999) [Caption]

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