“Party” Goes On; Cover Charge for Clear Channel

August 7, 2009 | Media & Entertainment

I’m usually on top of trademark issues in the radio industry, so I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I missed this one, particularly because it’s apparently been going on since 2006.

Tradepub All Access announced that Clear Channel has settled claims brought by The Cromwell Group, Inc., a small radio outfit that, according to its web site, owns stations in Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky, and Indiana. Of the 22 stations Cromwell owns, three use the brand “The Party” to identify themselves; Cromwell sought and received a federal trademark registration for the mark “The Party.”

Clear Channel used the same brand on several of its properties, including stations in Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Denver. Through a series of letters, Cromwell asked Clear Channel to stop using “The Party” on its stations; Clear Channel shot back by accusing Cromwell of unlawfully using “The Fox,” which Clear Channel claims to own.

Cromwell brought suit on December 15, 2006, alleging trademark infringement, unfair competition and false designation, trademark dilution, and a state law contract claim in connection with a prior relationship between Cromwell and Clear Channel concerning The Bob & Tom Show.

[Side note: although the contract claim is tangentially related to a previous trademark scuffle between Clear Channel and Cromwell, it has nothing to do with the “The Party” trademark. One wonders if perhaps Cromwell threw in the contract claim alongside the federal trademark questions in an attempt to have the state claim heard by a federal judge by way of supplemental jurisdiction; because the contract claim doesn’t appear to be substantially related to the trademark claims, though, my money’s on the judge declining to hear the state claim. Since the case was resolved by settlement, though, the issue is moot.]

Although the terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, All Access reports that Clear Channel has agreed to license “The Party” from Cromwell, and that Cromwell “encourages any stations that currently may be utilizing THE PARTY without a license to be proactive in contacting the company.”

The case was brought in the Middle District of Tennessee at Nashville; the case number is 06-cv-01196.