Title Fight p.12

By: M.L. STEIN MORE EVIDENCE THAT mainstream newspapers no longer ignore local alternative publications has surfaced in Nevada.
An attorney for the Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal has threatened legal action against the alternative Reno News & Review unless it drops its "Best of Reno" contest for readers.
The lawyer, James W. Hardesty, pointed out in a letter to News & Review publisher Jeff vonKaenel that the Gannett-owned Gazette-Journal has advertised and published "Best of Reno" surveys for the past 15 years.
"This letter," warned Hardesty, "is to place you on notice that you are committing copyright violations, . . . appropriation of my client's advertisement slogan and program, and committing torts of unfair trade competition and palming-off by your publication of the 'Best of Reno' survey."
Von Kaenel responded by publishing Hardesty's letter in his weekly tabloid and included a letter of his own advising "our friends at the Reno Gazette-Journal to 'Get Real.'" He asserted that "Best Of" is a common feature in many newspapers and magazines.
However, vonKaenel also announced that the News & Review will change its contest title to "Biggest Little Best Of Northern Nevada," presumably to avoid a costly lawsuit.
The publisher, who also owns alternative newspapers in Chico and Sacramento, Calif., with the same name, suggested in his letter that the Reno papers compete in quality rather than "seeing how much we can spend on attorneys."
"Of course," wrote vonKaenel, "we both know that your attorney's letter had little to do with supposed damages caused by the fact that our 'Best Of' contests share the same name. Your real goal was simply to remind us that Gannett has a big legal staff, one that is easily capable of keeping the News & Review tied up in court regardless of the merit of the case.
"It's not going to happen."
In a interview, vonKaenel, who is president of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, commented bitterly: "It's pathetic that a giant corporation wants to stop another paper from publishing by going to court.
"And it's real embarrassing that they have so little faith in their staff to compete with us in the contest . . . . We know of no one outside the great legal minds of Gannett who believe you can enter the Gazette 'Best Of' contest by turning in a ballot to the News & Review."
But vonKaenel may still wind up in court. Hardesty, through an aide, declined to say whether or not the News & Review's name change was satisfactory to his client.
?(The Reno News & Review has defied the threat of a lawsuit by the Reno Gazette-Journal and continues to run its "Best of Reno" contest.) [Caption]


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