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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Is Cincinnati 'Roadshow' Causing Confusion? Public TV's Antiques Roadshow Has Complained Of Misleading Advertising In Court Action


CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The advertisement above appears on the front page of today's Cincinnati Enquirer. It is hawking this week's Roadshow, which opened downtown Monday at the Duke Energy Convention Center. But the event has no connection to the popular public television series Antiques Roadshow, which is produced by the WGBH Educational Foundation in Boston. That Roadshow -- which has complained it is being victimized by a fake -- isn't scheduled to be on the road this year until June 12, when it does its first event in San Diego. The owner of the public TV show, WGBH, contends in a federal court lawsuit filed last month in Springfield, Ill., that its good name has been sullied by an impostor. It is seeking a permanent injunction for trademark infringement, false and misleading advertising, and unfair competition and business practices. The 26-page lawsuit, filed Feb. 23, 2010, says consumers are being confused:

"This action arises out of and is based on Defendants attempt to usurp the good will of an knowingly trade on WGBH's famous and hugely successful Antiques Roadshow television program and its ARS Marks and treasure chest logo. Defendants' use of the names TREASURE CHEST HUNTERS ROADSHOW and ROADSHOW to refer to themselves.,their appraisal events and their online and television programming and their use of a treasure chest is without WGBH's authorization, and is done with the knowledge that such use is in violation of WGBH's rights. Such activity is designed to deceive and has deceived consumers into believing Defendants are associated with Plaintiff to generate interest in their own services and events . . .

"Defendants misappropriation of Plaintiff's ROADSHOW mark and the treasure chest device has had the intended effect of confusing consumers. Plaintiff has received numerous letters and e-mails asking whether Defendants' events are connected to Antiques Roadshow. Consumers who see the advertisement placed by Defendants have contacted WGBH to ask whether in fact Antiques Roadshow is coming to the advertised cities, asking how to obtain tickets and asking about what can be brought to the appraisal events."


While the Cincinnati Enquirer has not yet seemed to notice there is a legal dispute under way, the Springfield State Journal-Register in Illinois has covered the flap in-depth. It notes that the treasure hunters say they won a ruling in 1999 that the Roadshow name is not solely WGBH's. The company's president defended its business practices. A full-text version of the lawsuit filed by the Antiques Roadshow is available here (pdf).

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