It won’t silence tonight’s inaugural iHeartRadio Music Awards on NBC, but a new lawsuit aims to make the newest music awards show a very short-lived affair. A trial date of April 6, 2015, already has been set for the multi-claim trademark infringement and unfair competition complaint filed in federal court earlier this week against Clear Channel and Premiere Radio Networks (read it here). While the live show will go on tonight, plaintiffs Radio Dogs claim that the new show, executive produced by Ryan Seacrest Prods, is far too close to their Radio Music Awards brand. They want an injunction against the show, its online presence shut down, materials destroyed and unspecified monetary damages “including all of Defendants’ profits or gains of any kind resulting from the actions complained of herein.” Radio Dogs registered the trademark Radio Music Awards with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on February 4, 2003.
Sounds pretty strong, especially when you consider that Radio Dogs produced the trademarked Radio Music Awards on the WB in 1999, then on ABC from 2000-01 and on — surprise, surprise — NBC from 2003-05. Add that American Idol frontman Seacrest was the host of those shows and Clear Channel was the major sponsor. And the fact is the two logos do share some characteristics.
But there’s a glitch — a rather big one. “On September 6, 2013, Radio Dogs cancelled its registration in the Radio Music Awards mark, the ‘814 Registration,’” says complaint filed in federal court in Florida on April 29, citing the registration number 2,684,814. “However, Radio Dogs is in the process of reinstating the ‘814 Registration.’ ” Oops. Even with a trial date set and a judge named, that might make any infringement action hard to get far with, to say the least.
Not that the plaintiffs think that’s a problem for the real issue at hand. “Defendants’ use of the confusingly similar mark IHeartRadio Music Awards for a competing television event and related services is likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception as to the source or origin of Radio Dogs’ services in that the trade and the consuming public are likely to believe that Radio Dogs’ services are provided, sponsored, approved, or licensed by Radio Dogs, or that Radio Dogs is affiliated, associated, or otherwise legitimately connected with Defendants,” said the 13-page complaint.
Of course, the other thing is, while going to a big network like NBC and challenging the big boys like the upcoming Billboard Awards is new, iHeartRadio has been doing its thing on TV for a while. Officially announced back in late February and starring longtime Voice coach Blake Shelton, new Voice coach Pharrell Williams, and Acrade Fire among the various act plus the premiere of a new Michael Jackson single, tonight’s 3-hour show multi-venue show is the latest brand extension for the iHeartRadio radio network. It follows the iHeartRadio Music Festival, hosted by Seacrest, which was launched in 2011 and has been televised on VH1 and the CW to so-so ratings.
Richard Wolfe and Darren Heitner of Miami’s Wolf Law represent the plaintiffs.