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Friday, December 28, 2007

Rural Ohio Weekly Newspaper Sues Gannett: Says Media Giant Has Swiped Its Name

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Newspaper giant Gannett Co. Inc., which owns familiar nameplates across the nation from USA Today on down, faces a trademark infringement lawsuit in Ohio federal court. The publisher of a 10,000-circulation weekly called the Pike County Advertiser contends publicly traded Gannett ripped off the name and has been using it on a competing local publication. Pike County has about 28,000 residents in southern Ohio and is considered a portion of the state's Appalachian region.

The lawsuit, Case No. 2:07-cv-01290, is pending in Columbus before U.S. Magistrate Nora M. King. Gannett's lawyer, John C. Greiner of Cincinanti, filed a response earlier this week that described the lawsuit as baseless. He also claims the Pike County Advertiser had abandoned its nameplate. Gannett puts out a string of weeklies in rural Ohio that use the name Advertiser. Its dailies in the state include the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Pike County Advertiser LLC said it controls the trademark, and used it starting in 2003. It apparently temporarily suspended publication last year. It says Gannett has taken the name "with intentional and willful disregard" of the competitor's rights.

"Plaintiff published its newspaper on a regular weekly basis with each issued having a circulation in excess of 10,000 copies. Through its circulation, together with publicity and advertising, the name of plaintiff's newspaper had acquired good will, value, and a special significance to the public and to its readers, advertisers, and suppliers past, present and prospective, who understand the name Pike County Advertiser referred to plaintiff's newspaper."

The lawsuit adds that Gannett's publication "imitates plaintiff's Pike County Advertiser in virtually all respects, including among other things, its name, size, design, format, layouts, typeset and content organization."

Gannett denies that it has imitated the weekly.

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