Dark time for ‘Light’ in San Antonio

By: Ellen Liburt

Hearst Corp. makes a federal case out of alleged trademark infringement

Will San Antonio daily newspaper readers see a modern-day charge of the Light brigade? Not if Hearst Newspapers Partnership L.P. has anything to say about it. The company that published the defunct San Antonio Light for decades is suing a maverick local businessman to stop him from using the name for his news Web site, SanAntonio-Light.com, and planned print newspaper.
“”San Antonio, Texas, is too big and diverse a market to have only one major daily newspaper. That is a sin,”” said R.G. Griffing, who July 10 announced his intention to start a paper in November called The San Antonio Light. Hearst bought the rival Express-News in 1992 before shuttering its own San Antonio Light in ’93. In a federal lawsuit filed July 27, Hearst responded by charging Griffing with trademark infringement, unfair competition, and cybersquatting, among other things.
Express-News General Manager Tom Stephenson said, “”We believe that we do have the name protected and that we own it, and we’re going to protect our right to that name.””
Griffing — R.G. stands for Richard Gary, who goes by his initials out of respect for P.T. Barnum, a “”great influence”” — said Hearst lost its claim to the name when it failed to file an affidavit of continued use last year with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He questions whether Hearst’s trademark is valid if it’s for a newspaper that no longer publishes. “”They do maintain an archive of old papers in digital form,”” he said, “”but that’s not a newspaper.”

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