Do you want to publish your ideas for “the best of San Francisco” or the “best of Seattle?” Well, the publisher of the Village Voice says you can’t because “best of” is a trademark that belongs exclusively to its group of alternative weeklies.
To prove its point, the Village Voice is suing user-review site Yelp (s yelp) for posting pages like this one:
The Voice’s publisher now wants Yelp to pay triple damages for using the “best of” monicker in relation 10 cities, including Miami, St Louis and Dallas. The complaint also seeks an injunction against Yelp.
Yelp declined to comment on the lawsuit.
This isn’t the first time the Voice’s publisher has tried this trademark trick. Last year, the one-time icon sued Time Out New York over the magazine’s annual “best of NYC” issue. The publisher claimed it was asserting its intellectual property but Time Out New York counter-sued, arguing the term “best of” is generic. The Voice lawsuit provoked widespread derision from newer New York media sites like Gothamist.
More broadly, the lawsuits reflects Village Voice Media Holding’s efforts to find more revenue streams at a time when alternative newspapers have lost their cachet. The company, now known as Voice Media Group, recently spun off its classified service, Backpage.com, which critics claim was a vehicle for sexual exploitation.
You can view the complaint, first reported by Law360 (sub req’d), against Yelp for yourself here:
(Image by Melle V)