New Times, CitySearch Settle “Best of” Dispute

CitySearch agrees not to use coveted phrase in six New Times' markets

NT Media (formerly known as New Times Inc.) settled its trademark dispute with Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch after CitySearch agreed to stop using the phrase “Best of” for six of its online city guides. NT Media publishes alternative weeklies in all six cities that were affected: Phoenix, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Denver and St. Louis.

The four-page settlement document states that CitySearch agreed to “change the name of its ‘best of’ program away from a ‘Best of [city name]’ format” on its Web sites for those cities.

NT Media filed suit against CitySearch last year and secured a preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona that stopped CitySearch from using the coveted phrase. As part of the settlement, NT Media agreed to withdraw the lawsuit.

“This proves that we have the rights to the ‘Best of’ trademarks in those cities and that we’re prepared to fight to retain them,” said NT Media Senior Vice-President Scott Spear. According to Spear, NT Media doesn’t hold a federally-registered trademark for the “Best of” phrase in the other six cities in which it publishes.

While the settlement only affects the cities named in the agreement, Spear hopes NT Media’s victory will set a precedent for other AAN papers, allowing them to fight for their own “Best of” rights.

A review today of the CitySearch Web site indicates that the company, which is owned by USA Networks, Inc., has removed the words “Best of” from the Web pages identifying its top local choices in the six cities named in the settlement, plus New Orleans. Gambit Weekly co-owner Clancy DuBos, who told AAN News in November, 2000 that his New Orleans-based paper was “in the process of attempting to resolve our differences (with CitySearch),” declined to comment.

CitySearch continues to use the “Best of [city name]” format on all of its other city guides.

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