VVM Executive Discusses Trademark Protection Suits

In a conversation with AAN, Village Voice Media Executive Vice President Scott Spear addressed the use of lawsuits in order to protect the company’s registered trademarks. He contends that it’s in the interest of all AAN members to take action when their brand is being misappropriated.

“If you don’t aggressively defend your trademarks, you stand to lose your legal rights to the protection granted you by those marks. This applies to marks that have been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as well as ‘common law’ marks,” Spear said. “Without that protection they can quickly become the target of multiple copycats and ultimately have their worth greatly diminished in the marketplace. Our Best Of trademarks are prime examples of this.”

In three separate incidents over the past month, VVM attorneys have gone on the offensive against the owners of ‘Best of’ websites:

  • In August, a cease and desist letter was issued to the proprietors of bestofstlouis.com, which has since gone inactive.

  • On September 3, Phoenix New Times filed suit against former employee Ty Liebig who had purchased the domain names bestofphoenix2011.com and bestofphoenix2012.com.

  • Four days later, a similar lawsuit was filed against the owner of thebestofphoenix.org, which charged a fee to Phoenix-area businesses in order to appear on the website’s list of “top-rated” companies.
  • Regarding the ‘Best of’ print editions that are published each year, Spear pointed out, “Not only are they our biggest print issues of the year, they’re also a major reference point on our websites.”

    Charleston City Paper Advertising Director Blair Barna echoed those sentiments.

    “In addition to generally being far and away the highest print revenue issue of the year for AAN papers, ‘Best of’ has become a franchise unto itself — one worth protecting because it generates multiple revenue and marketing opportunities,” said Barna, who also serves as AAN’s Advertising Chair.

    He added, “Our Best of Charleston issue is respected by locals and coveted by businesses, who proudly display their ‘Best of’ plaques all over town. Our ‘Best of’ party always makes the local news and we’ve had our ‘Best of’ content featured or mentioned by various regional and national publications and websites.”

    Leave a Reply