The Village Voice Fights for the Right to City Superlatives

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In ridiculous sounding lawsuits of the day: Village Voice Media is suing Time Out New York for using the phrase "Best of NYC" on the cover of its November 3 issue. "Best of" isn't exactly unique to Village Voice. It's a widely used branding and packaging tactic. A Google search for "Best of NYC" brings up plenty of other offenders. But the company's going after Time Out, claiming that the guide infringed on the trademark for "Best of NYC," which The Village Voice owns. Sounds absurd, but The Village Voice obtainted the trademark for exactly this reason, right? It even puts that nifty little ® character next to the Internet headline for its "Best of NYC" issue. 

It seems like a ridiculous claim -- how could the Village Voice own such a ubiquitous franchise, wonders Paid Content. "The Village Voice’s claim may be a long shot—the term 'Best of' is about as unique as New York’s ubiquitous Ray’s Pizza joints," writes Paid Content. A trademark lawyer even told Paid Content that Time Out could have the claim thrown out by persuading the judge that it's a "generic phrase," maybe getting the judge to kill the trademark altogether. But it's not the same as "Best of" or even "Best of New York City," so The Village Voice might have more luck. In any case, Time Out and other magazines be wary: Village Voice Media owns more than just the "Best of NYC" trademark. It also has rights to: Best of Dallas, Best of Denver, Best of Houston, Best of Miami, Best of Pheonix, Best of San Francisco, Best of Seattle, Best of St. Louis, Best of the Twin Cities and Best of Broward Palm Beach. And It has also filed an application for the very generic "Best of...." Imagine all the lawsuits the Village Voice will file if it gets a hold of that last one. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.