Ra­dio sta­tions end dis­pute over trade­mark

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

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.”

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