Radio stations end dispute over trademark
WOODSTOCK, N.Y. >> A U.S. District Court has dismissed a case brought by WDST radio claiming that not-for-profit radio station WIOF had infringed on the “Radio Woodstock” trademark by using “Woodstock 104” to identify itself.
Senior U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. issued the ruling Sept. 19 after “an agreement of the parties” was reached to end the case. He wrote that it was “with prejudice” and would prevent the case from being brought again.
The resolution leaves WIOF free to continue identifying itself as “Woodstock 104”.
“There was a stipulation that each side would bear its own court costs and expenses, which we had intended to collect from them because it was their mess,” said Ranid Steele. WIOF general manager.
WDST President Gary Chetkof on Wednesday stood by contentions that the use of “Woodstock” was copyrighted by his station, but said the cost of the litigation had become too much.
“Frankly, (WIOF) had a pro bono attorney and, after spending tens of thousands of dollars, I had no alternative but to just give up,” he said. “I think if I had gotten to go to court, I would have won and I wanted to go to court and I just couldn’t afford to do it, so, at the end of the day, (it is) a low-power radio station that nobody listens to and ... I had to make a business decision that it wasn’t worth putting more money and resources into this thing.”
Information provided by WDST showed the station trademarked the phrases “Radio Woodstock” in 1994 and “Woodstock Radio” in 2002.
Representatives for both stations have sought to identify themselves as small, independent voices in a broadcast world that conglomerates otherwise control. WIOF, which began operations in September 2014, is at 104.1 FM and operates on 100 watts, while WDST has been on the air since 1980 at 100.1 FM and uses 3,000 watts.
While both sides agreed to pay for their own attorney fees, Steele said a lawsuit seeking damages could still be filed to recover other costs.
“There are damages there, the problem is quantifying them and figuring out the time to pursue a prosecution if we think it’s actually worth our while to do so,” she said.
WIOF Director Felicia Kacsik said the dispute has cost the station sponsors.
“What we lost was in donations, was from people being scared off,” she said. “Even when it comes to things like buttons and T-shirts and bumper stickers, it was trying to decide what if we get these and we weren’t allowed to use them, so we couldn’t get our message out and how do you put a price on that? It could be a lot.”