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Entrepreneur Media awarded more than $1 million for infringement of its brand name.

At least a dozen newsletters, websites, and journals with "entrepreneur" in their names are effectively on high alert following the decision by the 9th Court of Appeals to uphold an award of over $1 million in damages and fees for Scott Smith's infringement of Entrepreneur Media's trade-marked brand name, "entrepreneur."

Entrepreneur Media launched Entrepreneur Magazine in 1977 and obtained the trademark in 1982, when the word was still not widely known or used. In 1995, Scott Smith began providing public relations services to small businesses under the eventual company name of EntrepreneurPR. He also published a magazine called Entrepreneur Illustrated and a website called entrepreneurpr.com.

EM sued him for trademark infringement in 1998. Subsequent losses in court forced Smith to change his company name to BizStarz, his domain name to Bizstarz.com, and the magazine title to BizStarz Quarterly. But he kept appealing the decisions (NL/NL 2/15/04 & 2/29/04).

In the meantime, other publishers deleted the word from their titles either voluntarily or in response to "cease and desist" letters from EM.

"Deliberate and willful" infringement

The current ruling awards Entrepreneur Media a permanent injunction. A three-panel judge upheld the earlier trial court's decision that Smith's infringement of the trademark was deliberate and willful. The panel also agreed that "Smith intended to confuse consumers" and benefited from the magazine's trademark and reputation.

"This decision couldn't have been more timely," said Pete Shea, CEO of Entrepreneur Media. "With entrepreneurs and small businesses fueling the economic recovery, we are keenly aware that our reputation for providing outstanding services to this market is more important now than ever. Smith's products and services were not of our caliber and we did not want any further confusion or false association."

Smith's response

Scott Smith told NL/NL, "Based on my meeting today with my attorney, it looks like I'll be seeking an appeal with the Supreme Court." Asked if any other "entrepreneur" publishers have contacted him since the decision, Scott replied, "No. Unfortunately, they are now probably even more afraid to say or do anything. However, by remaining silent and not aligning with others, they are just sitting ducks for Entrepreneur Magazine's high-powered legal attacks (and it's only a matter of when, not if, Entrepreneur Magazine will attack other 'entrepreneur' publishers).

"In fact, by not being proactive or uniting with others, they are doing exactly what Entrepreneur Magazine hopes they will do, nothing," Smith said.

Entrepreneur Media, 2445 McCabe Way, Irvine, CA 92614, 949-261-2325, www.entrepreneur.com

Smith, 5714 Folsom Blvd., #140, Sacramento, CA 95819, 916-453-8611, www.bizstarz.com
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Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Jun 30, 2004
Words:429
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