LOS ANGELES: EntrepreneurPR has suffered a major defeat in the legal battle to save its name.
LOS ANGELES: EntrepreneurPR has suffered a major defeat in the
legal battle to save its name.
In a tentative ruling issued on June 23, a federal district court
decided that the Sacramento-based PR firm’s name not only infringed upon
Entrepreneur Magazine’s trademark of the word ’entrepreneur,’ but that
it was created with the intention of confusing the public.
Scott Smith, president of EntrepreneurPR, has repeatedly denied that he
intended any similarity between his company’s name and that of
Earlier this year, Smith said that the lawsuit brought against him was
’ridiculous,’ because no reasonable person could confuse a PR firm with
a magazine. Last month’s ruling, however, stated that ’a likelihood of
confusion does not require competition between the two parties’ goods
and services.’ Hence, pending appeal, Smith will most likely have to
change the name of his firm, its Web site and its quarterly publication
(Entrepreneur Illustrated), the logo of which was a major point of
contention between the two parties.
’This (ruling) completely defies common sense,’ said Smith. ’We are in
the business of promoting small, entrepreneurial companies, but we can
no longer use the word ’entrepreneur’ in our name or in any of our
company literature. How are we supposed to tell people what we do?’
EntrepreneurPR attorney Jeff Kravitz added that the ’dramatic’ ruling
’completely defies precedent. Trademarks are a limited right - they are
not intended to remove words from the dictionary. We will appeal.’
Entrepreneur Media, publisher of Entrepreneur Magazine, issued only a
brief statement summarizing the facts of the decision. A request made to
CEO Peter Shea for further comment was declined.
Despite EntrepreneurPR’s shocked reaction to the ruling, Scott Miller, a
trademark attorney with Foreht Last Landau Millar & Katz, called it a
fair application of the spirit of the law.
’Personally, I don’t see enough of a difference between the two marks,
and I think EntrepreneurPR intended that,’ he explained. ’PR in itself
is really a generic term, and the use of those letters in front of the
word ’entrepreneur’ does not do much to distinguish it from the
Looking at it as an everyday person, I would think they are coming from
the same source.’
For now, Smith, who called his company ICON Publication before changing
it to EntrepreneurPR in 1997, hopes to be allowed to continue using the
name until the appeal of the case is heard, though an injunction could
be issued to stop him from doing so. ’This is all so far from what we
expected - all our evidence was completely overlooked,’ he said. ’It’s
hard to know even where to go from here.’
As for Smith’s contention that EntrepreneurPR can ’no longer use the
word ’entrepreneur’ in any of (its) company literature,’ Miller thinks
otherwise. ’It would be hard for me to believe that any court would hold
them to that broad an interpretation. There’s no reading of the case
that suggests they could not use ’entrepreneur’ in a generic sense.’
Asked how EntrepreneurPR might fare in an appeal, Miller paused, then
conceded, ’I think this will be tough to overturn.’